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Inpatient rehab

STEPS expands rehab tech with MindPod

The neurorehab centre is one of only two UK locations to adopt the world-first brain repair neuroanimation technology



A neurorehabilitation centre has continued its investment in technology to become one of the UK’s first adopters of the MindPod, the world’s first immersive neuro animation experience that supports brain repair. 

STEPS Rehabilitation has adopted the MindPod, a digital therapeutic platform and immersive gaming environment to accelerate the brain’s ability to recover, learn and adapt. 

MindPod, created by MindMaze – a global leader in neurotherapeutics solutions – is a first of its kind platform which has recently reached the UK. 

STEPS has become one of only two locations in the country to adopt the MindPod, which supports the intensive rehabilitation of clients with brain injury, spinal cord injury, complex trauma injuries and stroke. 

And it adds further to the Sheffield centre’s extensive suite of robotic and virtual reality rehabilitation technology. 

A recently-completed study shows that the MindPod – which involves clients controlling the movement of an animated dolphin called Bandit and other sea creatures – doubles the effectiveness of conventional rehab for upper limb recovery in stroke, and STEPS plan to undertake new clinical studies to see how these results translate across the other client groups they treat.

As well as bringing this pioneering technology to the clients it treats, STEPS has also partnered with both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University to develop several clinical trials and research projects around the use of the technology. 

These trials will explore how well it can not only accelerate a person’s physical and cognitive recovery from serious neurological injuries, but also the psychological benefits of using MindPod.

“Being involved from the outset of the start of the digital therapeutics revolution the UK is extremely exciting,” says Jules Leahy, business development director at STEPS. 

“What’s truly special and unique is that this is all delivered in our purpose-built residential setting supported by our specialist team of clinicians who are experts in their field. 

“We’re delighted that by giving clients access to this incredible technology in conjunction with everything thing else STEPS offers as a residential rehabilitation facility, we will be maximising the opportunity for each client to reach their full potential.”

MindPod is based on technology developed in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology in the United States and is backed by leading edge neuroscience. 

John Krakauer, professor of neurology at the University is also MindMaze’s chief medical advisor. 

“The game encourages the same kind of ‘neuro-babbling’ that babies use to improve hand-eye coordination – complex exploratory movements, leveraging the cardiovascular, motor and cognitive capabilities of the person that activate key neural systems in the brain related to restoration,” he says. 

“It comes with an anti-gravity vest that de-weights the arm and trains fine-motor control of the upper-limb by encouraging continuous exploration of its immersive oceanic environment,” says Toria Chan, clinical director at STEPS. 

David Noblet using MindPod

“The benefit to clients is that it delivers better outcomes, because it’s engaging, motivating and fun. It enables clients to train for longer and places them in an environment where they can experience a period of temporary escapism.” 

One clientDavid Noblet – had a severe stroke in November 2017. He was completely paralysed down his left side, losing two of the four lobes on the right side of his brain. 

David was 27, super fit and in his third year at Nottingham University studying mechanical engineering.

He first came to STEPS as a residential client at Christmas 2017. He arrived in a wheelchair but following extensive rehabilitation he was able to walk out of STEPS at the end of February 2018. 

David has now graduated and is working, but he continues to champion the work done at STEPS and is an ambassador for them, helping to raise awareness of the cutting edge rehabilitation techniques and technology that is available. 

David also returns occasionally as an outpatient and has used MindPod. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the first people in the UK to try this groundbreaking technology,” he says.

“Even after spending just 20 to 30 minutes on the game, the quality of rehab exercise that I was able to undertake, without really being conscious of it, was a genuine surprise and delight. 

“Being able to lose myself in the experience, rather than consciously working parts of my body, meant I was moving in a coordinated way that I may not have ordinarily done.”

Inpatient rehab

Chroma expands services in two Voyage Care homes

Music and arts therapies will be used to help support the emotional and psychological wellbeing of residents



Arts therapies provider Chroma has extended its contract with social care and support provider, Voyage Care, to deliver creative arts therapy services at two more of its care homes.

Residents at Devonshire House in Manchester and Cedar Road in the West Midlands will receive music therapy (MT), neurologic music therapy (NMT) and art therapy sessions to support their emotional and psychological wellbeing.

During assessment procedures, additional functional needs were identified in some residents, so NMT techniques are also being incorporated to facilitate opportunities to work towards other goals in joint working with speech and language and physiotherapy.

Devonshire House, in Ardwick, Manchester is a 24-bed specialist brain injury rehabilitation service with three wings. Residents are either active rehab, slower stream rehabilitation or long-term stay. Therapists work with all three residential sectors across the three wings.

Cedar Road is a nine-bed residential care home for slower stream, long-stay residents who receive the support they need to enable them to develop and maintain their independence and cognitive skills following a brain injury.

The creative arts therapists use a range of psychological and psychodynamic techniques to support the expression of memories and emotions in ways that do not rely on words. The forming of a therapeutic relationship is key to enabling and empowering individuals to express their emotions, manage overwhelming feelings and to process traumatic memories, safely.

Both individual and group sessions are used depending on the needs of the people supported.

The creative arts therapists also support individuals to meet functional goals through NMT techniques including Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT), which uses rhythmic speech cueing to encourage speech, Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS) to help improve gait or Therapeutic Instrumental Musical Performance (TIMP) to prepare the body for functional movement.

Louise Houghton, ABI placements manager at Voyage Care, said: “Voyage Care is centred on social rehabilitation. The impact of loneliness and poor mental health, for care home residents, has been highlighted throughout the pandemic, which is why we are extremely happy to be able to provide these services within the already well-established multidisciplinary team and look forward to the positive impact we know it will make to our residents and their emotional needs.”

Chroma’s neurologic music therapist Claire Maddocks and art therapist, Jackie McVey, will deliver one-to-one sessions as well as support speech and language and physio therapists.

Claire said: “It’s exciting to have two arts therapy modalities in Voyage Care homes, and being able to incorporate them early on in a new home alongside the multidisciplinary team. It demonstrates the acknowledgement of the importance of arts therapies and the significant role they play in providing emotional and psychological support.”

Jackie said: “It is commonplace, in residential care homes, for long-term residents to experience loneliness to some degree and it’s important we do as much as we can to help reduce such incidences.

“Group therapy has proven itself a great way to promote interaction with others. We have previously delivered group music therapy sessions at Lorenzo Drive to help tackle loneliness, which was a resounding success so I have every confidence this art therapy group will too.”

Alongside one-to-one art therapy sessions, Jackie plans to create group sessions focusing on social interaction and social skills.

Since the arts therapies services began in September 2021, attendance to weekly sessions has remained consistently high, reflecting the positive impact sessions are having upon residents’ lives, both emotionally and psychologically.

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Inpatient rehab

Exemplar Health Care opens latest specialist care home

The complex needs care home in Pontefract also has a dedicated neuro-disability unit



Exemplar Health Care, a provider of specialist nursing care for adults living with complex needs, has officially opened its £3.4million state-of-the-art specialist care home in Pontefract. 

Bennett Court, based on Ash Grove in South Elmsall, will be Exemplar Health Care’s sixth home in West Yorkshire. 

The home supports up to 30 people and specialisea in supporting adults living with complex mental health needs, neuro-disabilities, brain injuries, spinal injuries and complex dementia. 

Bennett Court has the expertise and facilities to support some of the most complex and acute individuals, who would often be in a hospital setting if not placed with them, enabling them to stay in the community and reducing hospital and secure facility admission. 


Specialist nursing care for adults living with neuro-disabilities

Bennett Court has the facilities to provide specialist nursing care for people living with neuro-disabilities or neurodegenerative disorders. 

The home has 30 large bedrooms, each with an en-suite, across three ten-bed units. All three units have the provision for bariatric care. 

This small group living provides a homely and supportive environment, which is more responsive to people’s needs. 

Lily Unit is a dedicated unit for those living with dementia. 

And the home’s Poppy Unit is a male-only environment which supports up to ten adults living with complex health needs and mixed diagnoses, including neuro-disabilities, brain injuries, physical disabilities and those who have tracheostomies, ventilators and PEG feeds. 

Being on the ground floor and with garden access rooms, Poppy Unit is ideal for those living with a neuro-disability. 


Other facilities at Bennett Court 

Bennett Court has communal dining and living spaces as well as a cafe, therapy room, salon and large accessible garden.

The home hosts a restaurant-style dining menu which is developed with service users at quarterly Food Forums. 

This ensures that menus are varied, interesting and available to everyone, taking into account personal preferences, condition-specific and religious dietary requirements. 



“It is extremely rewarding to be able to support 30 local people with complex health needs” 


Speaking about the opening, Helen Lawson, Commissioning Home Director for Bennett Court, said: “I’m thrilled to have opened Exemplar Health Care’s newest home in West Yorkshire.

 “This community-based home will provide person-centered care and rehabilitation that focuses on maximising independence, building everyday living skills, and empowering people to live as fulfilled lives as possible.

“It’s extremely rewarding to be able to support 30 local people with complex health needs, and to provide over 150 stable and local jobs for those wanting to be part of a new team where you can make a difference and every day better.”