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PhysioFunction: Augmenting hands-on therapy with innovative tech

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PhysioFunction provides neurological and musculoskeletal rehabilitation from its clinics in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.

Clients have access to the latest rehab technologies, with stroke survivors making up around a quarter of the client base.

Claire Everett is a senior Neurological Physiotherapist and Clinical Operations Manager at PhysioFunction, with over 20 years’ experience in working with stroke survivors.

Claire says:

“The recovery of function after stroke is a particular passion of mine.

“Over the last 20 years I have seen technology becoming an increasingly useful adjunct to hands-on therapy and exercise.”

The physical effects of a stroke vary from person to person, though survivors face common challenges due to stroke’s impact on movement and balance.

Difficulties in getting out of bed, walking, self-care and arm function and dexterity are just some of the challenges PhysioFunction can help clients overcome.

Clinicians tailor each rehabilitation programme to the client’s specific needs and goals, with technology enhancing the recovery process.

New technologies are thoroughly assessed by an experienced therapist before being incorporated into exercise therapy, helping to form the ‘Rehabilitation Triad’.

Claire outlines some of the popular stroke rehabilitation solutions.

“We use electrical stimulation in many ways at our clinic at Spratton.

“We have FES bikes, and FES foot drop devices such as Bioness GO which deliver stimulation to assist with function.

“We also use electrical stimulation in upper limb rehabilitation with the H200 and handheld stimulation devices which clients can also be set up with for home use.”

The clinics also offers interactive VR technology designed to help retrain and refine movement patterns.

Devices like the Mindmotion GO, GripAble and Tyromotion challenge clients in a fun and engaging way, providing feedback on their performance.

PhysioFunction can calibrate the games to the client’s current level of function, becoming increasingly challenging as they progress through their rehabilitation journey.

Elsewhere, Exoskeletons, the Alter G antigravity treadmill and the G Move enable clients to work on gait and balance re-education

Meanwhile, the SaeboGlove supports specific upper limb therapy.

Stroke patients will often use a number of these devices as part of their rehabilitation.

Mrs Smith went to PhysioFunction in July 2021 having suffered a stroke around a year before.

The then-78-year-old stroke survivor was using a quad stick to walk a few steps at a time.

PhysioFunction

Claire Everett

Claire explains:

“Mrs Smith had expressive and receptive language challenges and a low toned arm and leg. She had no functional use of her arm and hand. As part of her therapy, Mrs Smith utilised many technologies.

“A home neuromuscular stimulation device was set up to assist with activation of her shoulder and hand.

“In the clinic we used the MindMotion GO to work on endurance, strength and balance, progressing onto co-ordination of movement in stepping and upper limb range of motion.

“Mrs Smith also enjoyed using the Gripable Gripable to work on hand activation and using the Tyromotion we were able to work on balance and movement tasks and include some cognitive challenges within the tasks.

“The combination of hands-on therapy and exercise therapy dovetailed well with the use of technology to assist in maximising Mrs Smith’s recovery.

“By July 2022, Mrs Smith was able to walk from the clinic out to the carpark with a walking stick and supervision, she was confident in walking around her house and out to her garden with the quadstick and was using her arm to assist in tasks in the kitchen.”

Clients are generally very keen to engage with technology as part of their rehabilitation, Claire says, though some of the less tech-savvy may struggle at first.

An experienced PhysioFunction clinician will work closely with the client to ensure that they feel confident in using the technology, which will never replace the 1:1 relationship between client and therapist.

Stroke tech continues to evolve at a rapid pace, with PhysioFunction and their clients helping to drive innovation forward.

The centre of excellence frequently receives new technology to trial within the clinic, most recently KEEOGO – a smart powdered orthosis that assists walking patterns, endurance, reduced muscle strength and knee pain.

Claire says:

“In my opinion the use of technology both in the clinic and independently at home offers our clients a fantastic opportunity to maximise their recovery through active neuromuscular exercise in an innovative and engaging way.

“Using technology at home facilitates clients in performing a higher number or repetitions of movement a day which positively enhances the rehabilitation journey.

“We will continue to provide our clients with a high standard of assessment and rehabilitation with technology being an integral part of our offering.”

This is an excerpt from our Special Report – Innovations in Stroke

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