Neurological physiotherapy acknowledges a simple fact: the human body is an amazing thing with the ability to adapt to the changes we put upon it. However, with the brain the only way to access this ability is to put the right demand on it using advanced neurological physiotherapy techniques, skills and technology. When this occurs, it is possible to help children and young people with acquired brain injuries to restore function, independence and quality of life.
For neurological rehabilitation to be effective, the patient needs to experience enough of the right movements for physiological changes to occur. These changes to the nervous system are known as neuroplasticity and when the rehabilitation is both frequent and often, result in the generation of new brain cells and nerve pathways.
The latest research indicates that upwards of 80 hours of int
ensive rehabilitation, i.e. thousands of repetitions per hour over hundreds of hours not only provides the best outcomes to patients with neurological conditions and catastrophic injuries, but also results in improvements which are more likely to last.
Achieving this level of intensity, particularly with children with acquired brain injuries, is difficult using conventional physiotherapy techniques and equipment due to the practicalities of achieving thousands of repetitions, but also because of limited resources (i.e. physiotherapists, time, equipment and cost).
Also, each child will have varying needs, so treatment programmes need to be tailored to individual requirements and personalities as well as physical conditions.
Most importantly, for treatment to be effective, young patients need to be motivated and engaged in order to maximise their rehabilitation and recovery potential. Again, this can be difficult to achieve using conventional physiotherapy methods.
This is where technology comes in…
Intensive Rehabilitation Technology & The Benefits
By using technology such as robotics and virtual reality (VR), the intensive rehabilitation required can be delivered to allow young patients to harness previously undiscovered rehabilitation potential within their bodies and in some cases surpass their original expectations.
Robotics and VR make this possible by:
Increasing the volume of practice
Physiotherapy works if the quality is repeatable. To get the best results, a patient needs to achieve sufficient hours of specialist practice and place the right demands on their body. This used to be unaffordable and inaccessible, but now with the use of robotics, it is achievable.
Providing a safe environment
Robotic equipment allows the patient to exercise independently, yet safely. For example, with robotic gait trainers, the patient is secured in a harness so they can work on regaining coordinated walking movement without the risk of falling over or over-stressing joints and muscles.
Increasing the quality of therapy
The use of robotics enables safe and effective practice in ways unachievable in a traditional one-on-one physiotherapy session. It reduces the need for many hands to support therapy, enabling more effective treatments to be carried out and repeated. Parameters can be accurately adjusted with computer technology, enabling consistent progression of treatment.
Providing better treatment outcomes
Used alongside expert therapists, robotics enable control of treatment parameters, like never before. The accuracy of treatment is greater than can be delivered via the human hand. In addition, digital technology can provide computerised measures, giving a reassuring and consistent performance feedback.
Achieving more sustainable improvements
By utilising the intensive approach, facilitated by the specialist technology, patients can expect greater changes in a short space of time. This is particularly important in helping to maintain motivation for younger patients throughout their treatment programme.
Appeal of robotics
It has been found that robot-aided neurological rehabilitation devices, particularly those with an approach similar to a video game, which allow the child to interact and be more actively involved, are more appealing.
Advanced computer technology allows the patient’s progress to be more accurately measured and fed back to the patient. By using rehabilitation games and techniques, such as incentive charts, the child is more engaged in their rehabilitation to ensure they gain the most from their sessions.
Mental health benefits
Young patients with symptoms such as loss of memory, cognition and anxiety can often experience significant benefits from the structure and routine that an intensive rehabilitation programme provides.
The Rehab Physio works closely with neuropsychologists and occupational therapists to assess non-physical issues following brain injury, which help us to make the best decisions about a child’s rehabilitation programme. To find out more about our technology and services visit www.therehabphysio.com.