Tour de Pants

The team at Aim2Walk had a special treat today. The folks from Restorative Therapies (RTI) set us up with the RT300 Bike, and we enjoyed a full day of training with the help of a few clients.

The RT300 is a functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike. Its aim is to increase muscle tone and muscle conditioning, reduce spasms, improve sensation, and normalize the muscle firing sequence.

The bike is intended for users with an upper motor neuron condition (basically any injury or condition affecting the brain or spinal cord). Wheelchair users can roll right up to the pedals, and RTI makes it easy for people to use at home.

The system can stimulate up to 10 muscle groups at a time, and progress reports are emailed to users at the start of every week. The placement of electrodes on the user is very easy, with exception of the gluteus maximus electrodes (aka the “butt” electrodes), which found us fishing down the back of our clients’ pants looking for the perfect location. Luckily, with some different handling and a little better positioning, we found a way to conquer the pants and keep the client’s dignity intact!

The scientific evidence for FES use in neurological rehabilitation is too grande to review here, but let’s just say that it works. Studies have shown it an effective way to improve: function, muscle tone, muscle strength and conditioning, patient compliance with treatment regimens, and much more.

We already use muscle stimulation on a regular basis at Aim2Walk, and we are excited that we now will be able to regularly implement an FES bike with our neurological protocol.

Let the biking begin!

Lokomat hits the dancefloor! (for a good cause, really)

This is Aaron. Well, in the photo I mean. This is Jesse writing. This should be Aaron writing, but he’s off somewhere apparently doing something really important, and so here I am, writing his entry.

This past weekend our team was displaying the Lokomat at ROBOTICA, the 2nd Annual Stems of Hope Gala hosted by the charity organization, THREE TO BE. THREE TO BE supports the “advancement of laboratory and clinical research initiatives for the development of therapies and treatments for children living with Cerebral Palsy and other neurological disorders.”

Aaron serves as a board member for the THREE TO BE Foundation as their Robotic Therapy Advisor. The focus of the first Stems of Hope Gala in August 2010 was to support stem cell research and thanks to the support of donors a total of $500,000 was raised! This year THREE TO BE raised enough funds to buy Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital a new Pediatric Lokomat!

Aim2Walk has been one of the corporate sponsors for THREE TO BE since they were founded. It’s one of the ways we support the progress of innovative medicine and technology, and of course reach out to more people in need of therapy.

So all in all this year’s Gala was a great success! Not only did the Aim2Walk team enjoy a very (very very) needed night out (we owned the dance floor, well sort of), but a lot of people were able to help raise money for a good cause.

… and now it’s 10:24pm on a Monday night… and we’re all working again.

*Sigh* Next year can’t come fast enough.

Neuro Traveler

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I love airports.

Maybe it’s because they symbolize “getting away”, or coming home. Maybe it’s because you get to people watch. Or maybe it’s because I like ridiculously long lines, teeny tiny bathrooms, infant proportioned snacks, and crusty flight stewards.

Whatever way you slice it, there’s still something about travel that tickles my senses. For those of you who travel for a living, you’re right in thinking I must not travel too often if I actually enjoy it. But I travel enough.

I’m currently sitting in the Fredericton, New Brunswick airport returning from an inservice I assisted with for Bioness as a Clinical Specialist regarding their L300 an H200 functional electrical stimulation devices.

This is an extremely small airport. Smaller than my high school. The walk from the parking lot to the only terminal was shorter than the walk from my driveway to my house. I saw the security guy cleaning the bathroom. The landing strip is also used for staff parking. It’s small. But is that bad?
While I await a boarding call for the prop plane taking me back to Toronto, I got to thinking… I love when things are kept simple. I only arrived 30 minutes before my flight and I’m not close to being the last one here. There are no long lines. The staff don’t appear stressed out or over worked and no one is complaining.

This is how therapy should be.

No one likes going to the doctor’s office, sitting in a packed waiting room, anxiously waiting for your name to be called since you’ve been there for over an hour, and barely getting your doctor’s attention once you do get called. I’ve heard way too many stories from clients about rehabilitation centers or hospitals or clinics that operate in a similar manner.

To increase profits: cram as many clients into your clinic as you can, spend as little time as possible with them, and schedule them as often as possible (not as often as needed).

To tarnish the reputation of physical rehab: do the same as above

If therapy clinics were set up like the Fredericton airport, the world would be a better place. You wouldn’t be hassled for showing up a couple minutes late or not doing your exercises as exactly prescribed. The therapists could spend an appropriate amount of time with you and actually have time to figure out your issues and develop a more effective treatment strategy. The atmosphere would feel more friendly because, well, people would be more friendly. This doesn’t mean the clinic has to be minuscule or out in the middle of nowhere. It just means that with proper staffing and scheduling and a more client-focused approach to therapy, clinics can make you feel more comfortable about the task at hand – your therapy.

Easier said than done, I know. We struggled with this at Aim2Walk in the earlier days of our clinic. In the end, though, we know we will succeed if, like the Fredericton airport, we keep things simple from an organization standpoint and by following these simple rules:

1) don’t overbook – make sure there is always one therapist or assistant for every client on your schedule
2) have a friendly and knowledgeable front desk staff
3) ensure ALL employees are familiar with operation of the clinic and help out in all areas when able
4) don’t crash the plane (this applies only to the airline…I’m ready to board and I’m hoping the pilot is subscribed to neurochangers.com)

Let us know your ideas for making a visit to your rehab clinic a more enjoyable experience.

Safe travels!