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Harnessing the power of preparation

Trying a new powerchair can be a daunting and dangerous experience for children – but help is at hand from Tiki the Elephant and the innovative creators of i-Drive, as NR Times reports.



For a child with motor disabilities, taking control of their first or latest powerchair can be a major milestone in their young life.

It’s a challenging process and, often, a fearful one too – for parents as well as the child.

Various healthcare professionals, and technology provider representatives, may be involved in preparing the chair and its control system.

The child then has a limited time to try it out before they and their family make decisions which can have a huge bearing on their future quality of life and independence.

There is also the immediate risk of colliding with walls or furniture as they first take control.

The i-Drive Assessment Kit provides an alternative. It enables therapists to assess children multiple times in their existing seating system without the need for a powerchair.

The i-Drive takes away the risk of the child losing control of the powerchair and physically hurting themselves the first time they try it.

It also eradicates the risk of an unsuitable chair or control system being selected due to rushed decision-making or lack of assessment time.

It enables a bespoke control system to be developed, tailored to the movements the individual is able to achieve easily.

The i-Drive provides a true assessment of the child’s functional ability – and cognitive and special awareness
– as they focus on operating the switches rather than struggling with an unfamiliar seating system.

The system is used in combination with the Loonz video game, which helps the child to get comfortable with the controls.

Controlling Tiki the Elephant over many hazards in his hot air balloon, builds the child’s confidence and helps to fine-tune the controls.

As the levels progress, the difficulty increases, helping users to improve their hazard awareness.

Parents who are worried about their child operating a heavy powerchair for the first time also gain peace of mind that the child will be prepared once they take control of their new device.

The i-Drive, in conjunction with the Loonz game, can assess for a range of controls from head arrays, to sip and puff, tray controls and chin controls.

While more games are planned, a virtual reality training game is also being introduced. This puts the user into a real-life environment such as a classroom or living room and trains them to navigate around obstacles using their new powerchair
control system.

The i-Drive system is distributed in the UK by BES Healthcare Ltd, which can support professionals and parents via demos, training and assessments from its in-house Assistive Technology Specialists.

Contact or call 011799 666 761 for more information.

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Achieving independent bed access with neurological conditions



Sponsored feature 

Getting in and out of bed is a common problem for individuals with a neurological condition. With risks from Covid-19 now an added challenge, the desire to achieve independent bed transfers without carers is even more important – made possible by the powered Rotoflex rotational bed range from Theraposture.

An award-winning solution

Theraposture has been a respected supplier of specialist adjustable beds, chairs, and care cots since 1981. It provides the largest selection of tailor-made turning beds for

a multitude of user conditions, sizes, and weights. By pushing and holding just one button, the Rotoflex bed provides a safe and independent way to get into and out of bed. It also helps the user to stand up safely by vertically lifting them and most importantly, NOT tipping them forward – so important for users with inconsistencies around weight bearing and balance.

The ground-breaking Rotoflex 235 won the prestigious Excellence in Caring Award at the OT show, and the new Rotoflex 235 Mk2 builds on this reputation by offering further functionality.

The latest turning bed innovation

A key advancement in the Rotoflex 235 Mk2 is its inbuilt software which provide personalised programming of functionality. Neuro users can choose their maximum angle of rotation, incline limit or return to their favourite pre- programmed position. Soft-start movement is also now included and operation is quicker.

All this operation, including using the unique and patented rising heel section, is controlled with just one hand control. The Rotoflex is the only rotating bed in the world to include a powered rising heel section.

The Rotoflex 235 Mk2 has a recommended maximum user weight of up to 200kg (31 stones). The design of the lifting frame means that it will not tip over and the mattress will not come off the bed.

There are also low access and heavy-duty versions in the range. Liam Braddell, Theraposture Sales Director, says: “When two carers are potentially replaced by a Rotoflex, the cost of the bed

could be repaid within 14 weeks. Annually, the typical cost of care to assist one person with bed transfers is over £27,000 per year and this is an ongoing cost. Also Theraposture partner with the Parkinson’s UK Charity.

We provide those living with Parkinson’s a 10% discount off our normal prices. We have also extended this offer to people with MS.”

End user story

Rotoflex bed helps determined retired RAF Nurse with Parkinson’s to remain at home. Now living with the effects of Parkinson’s Linda requires assistive equipment to remain mobile – her new Rotoflex is a vital solution for safe access in and out of bed.

Linda explains: “Before owning my Rotoflex, getting in and out of bed was becoming increasingly difficult. I was having to pull myself up on my arms and my elbows were developing sores.

“My Rotoflex has now made a fantastic difference to my life especially as I am adamant that I will not be going into a care home. My independence is so important to me especially as I didn’t have a permanent home for so long serving in the RAF.”

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New device could improve spinal injury outcomes



When the spinal cord is injured, it swells, which restricts blood flow and can cause permanent motor, sensory, and autonomic function damage.

Preventing initial swelling, therefore, is key to minimising damage. But the only treatment available for this is a steroid therapy that has minimal effects.

But a team of researchers have devised a new therapy device that removes fluid from the spinal cord using osmosis to reduce swelling. While the device has only been tested on injured rats, they’re confident it will soon be applied to humans.

The researchers, from the University of California’s Department of Bioengineering, found that spinal fluid can increase in the area within one hour of the injury happening, and levels can remain elevated for 28 days.

In their paper, published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, the researchers explain that the device rests on the exposed spinal cord, while artificial cerebrospinal fluid containing the protein albumin, which initiates osmosis, passes across the membrane, transporting water molecules from the spinal cord. This process is repeated, removing more water.

They found that their device removes more than enough water to prevent brain swelling, and that removing this excess water quickly enough improved neurological outcomes.

The researchers are confident their findings apply to humans, and they aim to carry out more experiments on rats, before moving onto trials with humans.

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Expanding the horizon of neuro patients

With AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmills.



A wide range of patients are now benefiting from the use of AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmills throughout clinics across the UK.

Patients with a wide range of neurological conditions are gaining confidence within a fall-safe environment which allows for high intensity repetitions along with increasing motor learning early on in the rehabilitation stage.

Originally designed for NASA, the AlterG uses patented Differential Air Pressure Technology to unweight patients from 100% down to 20% of their bodyweight in precise 1% increments.

AlterG started in Professional Sport assisting with rehabilitation from ACL and Ankle injuries, moving onto MSK Physiotherapy Clinics. However multiple research papers and case studies have now been carried out to show the benefits of use with multiple neurological conditions including Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Functional neurological disorder, Brain Injuries & Incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries.

Developing the technology further, along with a precise partial weight bearing environment, AlterG has liaised with multiple Neurological Physiotherapists and Surgeons and added new features to enhance the experience on the machine and enable patients to gain as much as possible from each session.

The machines are now available with basic Gait Analytics (Stance Time, Step Length and Weight Bearing Symmetries and Cadence), Pain scales, pre- programmed exercises and camera for live video monitoring allowing patients to see their feet whilst walking.

Multiple case studies have been carried out, one of which is Brainstem Cerebrovascular Accidents (CVA) or Strokes. In conjunction with AlterG, Kate Haugen from Great Moves Physical Therapy (Colorado, USA) wrote a great case study with regards to a 42-year-old runner and university tennis coach. The individual presented two strokes resulting in right sided weakness and significant balance deficits from the first stroke and almost complete paralysis on his left side for 8 days following a second CVA.

“Weightbearing exercises caused medial tibiofemoral joint line pain and swelling. The patient was unsuccessful with a stationary bike and elliptical trainer. AlterG allowed for more controlled loading progression for returning to Full Weight Bearing.”

After multiple weeks of rehabilitation, the patient can now step over objects and change direction quickly. In addition, there are no limitations with the distance the patient is able to walk, and they are not limited by fatigue.

Along with a range of case studies, various research papers are available online showing how the treadmill can be an effective intervention for those who have experienced a stroke or other neurological conditions.

“The AlterG enables Neuro patients to experience what they thought they could never do again – be it walking, jogging or running. We have had some very encouraging results – even with clients who had trialled some of others rehabilitation technologies, including a conventional partial-weightbearing treadmill. Any neuro patient who can achieve an assisted step to transfer into the AlterG can benefit.

The AlterG allows a physio to challenge neurological patients in a safe manner and in a cost-efficient manner without the need for an additional therapist or assistant”.
– Jon Graham, Physiofunction.

Trevor Donald, Managing Director of SportsMed Products Ltd (the UK distributor) stated “it is great to see research coming through about the huge benefits the AlterG can have for individuals suffering with neurological conditions. The patient stories emerging from our customers at neurological physiotherapy clinics has been incredible”

Not only does the AlterG aid walking but it can be used simply in a partial weight bearing environment to carry out exercises such as single hand throwing and catching, squats and hopping.

If you would like further information on the papers and case studies carried out along with clinical protocols please feel free to contact AlterG’s UK distributor, SportsMed Products Ltd.

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