INNOVATION FOR INDEPENDENCE
ISSUE 79 June/July 11 £6.95
Aneural control of bionic leg moves closer
By Dominic Musgrave ANEURAL control of a bionic leg by amputees has moved a step closer after a preliminary study revealed promising results. Four patients with above-the-knee amputations were able to perform various leg and foot movements in a virtual environment using signals from the muscles of their upper legs, claims Levi Hargrove, of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and colleagues. The three men and one woman, with an average time since amputation of 18 years (range of about five to 20), all had electrodes placed on the skin's surface over nine muscles in the upper leg. Levi said their performance was roughly comparable to that of four participants who had intact limbs. He added: “We were expecting to be able to control knee movements. We were not expecting to be able to control ankle movements. “Our preliminary results demonstrate successful neural control of both the ankle and knee joints and represent a significant step in our efforts to develop a neuralcontrolled prosthetic leg for the millions of
people living with lower limb loss worldwide. There is much work to be done, but what we have found is a meaningful sign for a future of more advanced prosthetic control and artificial limbs for lower limb amputees.” Through real-time tests, all participants were instructed to move a virtual lower limb through a variety of motion patterns on a computer screen. Metrics were based on accuracy of movement, the time it took to complete the motion and the percentage of successfully completed motions. Levi said he expects to have patients supporting weight and walking in a laboratory environment in about a year and climbing up and down stairs in two to three years. He added: “Our findings also showed that realtime ankle control was attainable by only using EMG signals from the thigh muscles, leading me and my colleagues to believe that TMR surgery may not be necessary for amputees to regain control of knee and ankle movements with prostheses. “We look forward to applying these findings to our continued research investigating neural control in lower limb amputees and the future development of advanced physical knee and ankle prostheses.”
Oscar Pistorius took two gold medals and broke a world record at the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester. Using the FlexFoot® Cheetah® prosthetic foot design from Össur, the South African took the T44 100m title in a personal best of 11.04 before taking almost half a second off his T42/44 400m record to win in a time of 47.28.
Paralysed student ‘walks’ with aid of exoskeleton By Dominic Musgrave AN American student who was paralysed in a car crash has walked across the stage at his graduation with help from a robotic exoskeleton strapped to his body. Austin Whitney, 22, severed his spinal cord when he crashed his car in 2007 while drink driving but, after turning his life around and giving up alcohol, he enrolled at UC Berkeley where he studied history and political science. And the student was determined to collect his degree certificate while standing on his own two feet. He said: “The second I pressed the button and stood up, I was flooded with a series of emotions. It was overpowering. “I’ve stood in the machine a lot of times before, but I knew that it would be different up on stage, and it truly was.” The robotic legs involve leg-brace supports and a slim box-like apparatus strapped to Austin’s back. This technology enabled him to move his legs and walk tentatively across the stage, to the loud cheers of 15,000 fellow students and staff members.
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Austin Whitney walks with the help of the robotic exoskeleton at his graduation.
The exoskeleton device was developed by mechanical engineering professor Homayoon Kazerooni and student researchers at the University. He said the challenge is to resist the temptation to over-engineer the machine. “This technology can be accessible to a large number of people, and that is our mission,” Homayoon added. “We’re telling the community that this is possible. This is just the beginning of our work. “What distinguishes the Austin exoskeleton from the others out there is its simplicity for unsupervised
in-home use and its lower cost. “We made the conscious decision to only focus on key functions to keep the cost down. “Users won’t be able to walk backward or climb ladders with the Austin exoskeleton, but what we sacrifice in capability, we gain in accessibility and affordability. Just getting people to be upright and take steps forward is already a huge advance in increasing independence.” Austin plans to continue his work with the team behind the exoskeleton and hopes to own a device himself one day.
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Prosthetic user Colin to run 630 miles for charity A PROSTHETIC limb user plans to run 630 miles from Somerset to Dorset in a bid to raise £10,000 for charity. Colin Edwards will run 10 miles a day on the South West coastal path for PORTER, a charity that he is trustee of, which supports people with limb deficiencies. He had a serious motorcycle accident when he was 19, although his leg was not amputated until he was in his 40s, which is when he took up running. Colin added: “After the accident a Canadian surgeon demonstrating new techniques in vascular transplants saved my leg. However, several operations followed and chronic problems finally left me no option but to have my leg amputated. “My first few years as an amputee were a great disappointment. Before the accident I had ran cross country for
Devon, boxed for the South West region and played rugby for my local club. At the time I was farming, and the constant activity caused a lot of sores, not to mention the times I left my leg behind in the mud. “When I first started running again I was bright red and out of breath after just 100 metres. Slowly my fitness improved until I was able to run marathons and severe off road races. “This level of fitness has allowed me to undertake fundraising expeditions such as Base Camp Everest and the summit of Cocopaxi (Ecuador). “I've chosen this particular challenge because I have always loved the union between sea and land. The South West coastal path is beautiful and steeped with history and myth, and I couldn't think of a better place to do something like this.”
Hands-free system could help wheelchair users PEOPLE with severe physical disabilities could soon be able to control their wheelchair or mobility scooter simply by moving their eyes or mouth. Scientists at Essex University have created a hands free control system for electric wheelchairs that can detect a pattern of winking and jawclenching movements. If successfully developed, the software could have a number of important health benefits for people with spinal cord injuries or quadriplegia. Lai Wei and Huosheng Hu from the university's School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering developed the system using an inexpensive webcam and a sensing headband. Lai said: “Their prototype system
uses pattern recognition and electromyographic signals to identify which of five winking and jaw clenching movements the user is making. The combination of a left and right wink, with and without a jaw clench, and a jaw clench alone is linked to six control commands for the wheelchair. “An indoor trial showed us that all users could control a wheelchair well enough to navigate an obstacle course and follow specific routes.” The researchers believe that their software can be fine tuned to suit the different facial and muscular characteristics of individual wheelchair users. In future, they hope that the same technology could allow facial expressions and movements to control other devices as well.
Students elected to CSP Council COVENTRY University’s Laura Asplin has been elected to represent fellow physiotherapy students on the CSP Council. She beat two other candidates and will take over from Arun Pall, whose one-year term ends in October. The recent poll also saw Matthew Roche, of Leeds Metropolitan University reelected to the CSP’s industrial relations committee. And Therese 4
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Leahy, of Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, was elected unopposed as the Scottish representative on the CSP student executive committee. Students elected to other CSP bodies include Edwin Knight (practice and development committee), Christopher Williams (professional practice and service delivery subcommittee) and Harpreet Chandi (education sub-committee).
Donated splints help stroke patients PATIENTS who have suffered a stroke and have lost hand control in Lincoln are being helped with their rehabilitation with new equipment donated to the County Hospital.
Founders of ELofH Sarah Hope and Victoria Bacon, with Heather Mills and General Lord Dannatt, the former chief of the general staff.
Celebrity launch for charity aiming to help limbless children CELEBRITIES, politicians and activists joined together in the House of Commons to celebrate the launch of a new charity, Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope. The reception, held in the Terrace Marquee, was hosted by Conservative MP Richard Bacon. The MP for South Norfolk and celebrity backer Joanna Lumley are Patrons of ELofH, which will give limbless children a bright and active future by providing low-cost prosthetic limbs and through funding further technical research into prosthetics. He said: “Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope will do exactly what its name suggests. By giving limbless
children hope, they will live more happily. The charity offers an excellent opportunity to help children who have lost their limbs obtain the assistance that they need and deserve.”
Hope, whose daughter lost a leg in a traffic accident when she was just two years old. Her mother Elizabeth died at the scene of the accident and Sarah, too, was badly injured.
Over two hundred guests – including Heather Mills, former model and charity campaigner, Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, Maria Miller MP, minister for disabled people and General Lord Dannatt, the former chief of the general staff – attended the launch to learn about the charity’s work and the first project it will support, to help children in North West Tanzania, East Africa, who have lost their limbs.
The charity, which is being run by volunteers, will raise money for specially chosen small-scale partner organisations who are well established ‘on the ground’ in countries where help for limbless children is needed most.
ELofH has been inspired by Sarah
It will also designate funds to go towards research and development of prosthetics, specifically to support the development of a more advanced limb, to replicate the function of a human ankle.
The six dynamic hand splints and associated equipment have been donated to the hospital’s physiotherapy department by the Bromhead Medical Charity. The hand splints are not widely available, and the hospital is one of the first in the East Midlands region to begin using this state-of-the-art equipment. Clinical lead for neurological physiotherapy for United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Sean East, said: “The benefits of this treatment to our patients are enormous. “Our patients will be receiving hand control rehabilitation sooner, preventing some of the complications of disuse, helping those that meet the criteria to regain hand control much earlier in the rehabilitation process.” Many stroke patients lose control of their ability to outstretch their hand after clasping something, on the affected side of their body. The splints facilitate this process by mechanically pulling the hand out of a clasp position. The equipment includes various activities for the patients to practice this action on. After a few sessions with a splint, patients can experience increased control over this range of movement. The splints come in a range of sizes and can be adjusted to fit individual patients.
Team aims to improve spinal injury rehab RESEARCHERS and clinicians in Yorkshire have teamed up to improve rehabilitation programmes for people who have suffered severe spinal injuries.
undertaken into the rehabilitation of spinal injury patients has focused on the lower limbs and helping people to regain mobility in their lower body.
Bringing together researchers from the University of Leeds and clinicians at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, the research project is focusing on how patients regain their arm movements following spinal cord injuries something which can dramatically improve a patient’s independence.
Drs Ronaldo Ichiyama and Sarah Astill of the University’s Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences are leading the project.
Until now, much of the research
Ronaldo said: “Despite tetraplegic patients seeing the restoration of their upper limb function as a priority, there’s limited research in this area in terms of measuring and assessing their function and recovery.
“You need your upper limbs to do even really basic things such as brushing your teeth or feeding yourself. Additionally, the loss of upper limb function means that people who have suffered spinal injuries are unable to return to work. “If we can inform better rehabilitation assessments and treatments, then this will really help patients both in regaining their independence and enabling them to return to the workforce in the future.” The team are working with
patients to gather information at a range of intervals following their injuries to examine the different factors affecting upper limb function recovery and the physiological mechanisms at work during the recovery process. The project team is aiming to develop standard criteria which will, in the longer term, be used when clinical decisions are made about rehabilitation for patients. This should lead to improved outcomes for many spinal injuries patients. ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I JUNE/JULY 2011
Tamzin Outhwaite opens the new home with Enable Care director Nicola Coveney, executive director Rahim Dhanani, director Keith Hawley and home manager Sarah Gontsi.
Actress officially opens new unit
ACTRESS Tamzin Outhwaite officially opened a new care home for people with an acquired brain injury. The former EastEnders and Hotel Babylon star officially opened Enable Care’s new unit in Sewardstone, Waltham Abbey, after she was given a full tour of the home and spent time talking with the residents and their families.
The event was timed to coincide with National Brain Injury Week, an occasion to raise awareness of brain injury and its devastating effects. The team delivers therapies by incorporating rehabilitation in everyday living to enable the residents to gain as much out of their lives as possible.
Diabetic clinic prevents 17 amputations By Dominic Musgrave A DIABETIC foot clinic at a Wales hospital has saved the limbs of 17 diabetes patients who could have faced amputation. The one-stop-shop approach at Morriston Hospital has meant high risk patients getting quicker access to treatment, with very positive results. Rosalyn Thomas, ABM’s deputy head of podiatry, established a multidisciplinary joint foot clinic to enable patients to undergo medical and diabetic reviews at the same time as their foot problems are addressed. It has cut down on outpatient visits and waits, because the various specialists are all there, ready to organise treatment swiftly. The clinics have been held eight times, had 58 appointments, and saved the limbs of 17 patients from amputations. She said: “Diabetes is a major health problem and 20 per cent of NHS funds are utilised by people with diabetes. 28 per cent of those funds are due to diabetic foot problems. Worldwide, a lower limb is
amputated every 30 seconds due to diabetes. “In our clinics the three consultants work together and patients don’t have to wait for outpatient appointments or go from one clinic to another – they have the specialists on hand. High risk patients are identified and fast-tracked for treatment. We all work together really well and it’s very pleasing to see such positive outcomes for patients.” As well as the reduction in amputations, 68 per cent of ulcers have healed and remained healed out of the 58 patients that have attended to date. Ros, who was runner-up in the leading integration category in the UK-wide Advancing Healthcare Awards recently, added: “Not only is preventing amputation the best possible outcome for patients, it is also cost effective for the NHS. “The direct cost of an amputation is around £60,000, with an addition £17,000 - £24,000 in ongoing social costs.
Physiotherapy clinic feels the love A GLOUCESTERSHIRE physiotherapy clinic has won a ‘Most Loved’ award for local businesses. In the ‘14 Days of Love’ competition, run by website TheBestOf, the Markland Clinic in Cirencester was named top physiotherapy and sports business and one of the 100 most loved businesses in the UK. Over 16,000 businesses were nominated for the awards, which 6
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relied on clients posting testimonials on website. The competition aimed to highlight the services and businesses available in local areas based on word of mouth recommendations. Clinic founder Kate Markland said: “Our success is always down to our clients, colleagues and friends, and this is particularly so in this competition.”
Physio joins team aiming to travel Ancient Silk Route NEWS
A BRITISH physiotherapist has joined a small group of distance runners who aim to become the first team to travel the entire length of the Ancient Silk Route from Turkey to China on foot – a distance that equates to over 200 marathons in five months. Their goal is to raise money and awareness for water shortages in the region. Dr Stephen McNally, is supporting the team in their mammoth expedition by helping maintain their wellbeing for the duration of the five-month challenge, which set off from Istanbul, Turkey at the end of April. He said: “My role is quite holistic as it incorporates the injury management and prevention of the athletes, nutrition and hydration as well as trying to keep the athletes motivated throughout the journey.
Dr Stephen McNally treats one of the team on the challenge.
“As a physiotherapist, the physiological and psychological challenges likely to be encountered while facilitating these athletes to complete this extraordinary feat, requires intensive communication, motivation and encouragement while adhering to the physio-therapeutic management of the athletes through-
out the expedition. To do this all for 150 consecutive days will be a real challenge for both the athletes and me.” The team of runners Stephen is supporting will undertake an average of 70km per day through Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China. After 150 days of running, and with approximately 10,000 kilometres behind them, they will finish in Xi’an – the capital of Shaanxi province, China – on September 16/17, with a gala event. The lead runner on the expedition, Kevin Lin Yi Jie – the former ‘4 Deserts Champion’ who ran across the continent of Africa in 2006/7 – has been joined by Chinese runners Chen Jun and Bai Bin and Canadian runner, Jodi Bloomer. They are accompanied by a support team of five experts in the fields of logistics, physiotherapy and wilderness medicine. The challenge has been organised by The Home Expedition (THE) – a Taiwanbased institute devoted to promoting a sustainable earth and long term solutions for deprived peoples.
Cards designed to help spot early cancer signs A NEW handy wallet-sized card has been designed to help clinicians spot a condition that could be an early indicator of cancer. The guidance tool uses the acronym ‘red flag’ to identify patients with Metastatic Spinal Cord Compression. The cards list eight ‘red flag’ signs associated with MSCC, a condition that can be the first indication of undiagnosed cancer. Each letter of the word serves as a reminder of symptoms to look out for. The card presentation idea was initiated by staff from the Bolton Orthopaedic Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (CATS) after it was found that up to a quarter of patients present to musculoskeletal services with MSCC as the first indication of malignancy. Susan Greenhalgh, a consultant
physiotherapist and clinical lead for Orthopaedic CATS and MSK services at Bolton PCT, said: “We know that the earlier this serious condition is identified the better the patient outcome. So we wanted to give general clinicians something that would help them identify those at risk.” The bullet point alert system featured on the cards was created by Bolton Orthopaedic CATS collaborating with the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cancer Network, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester and professor James Selfe from the University of Central Lancashire. Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cancer Network has printed and distributed 9,000 copies of the cards to frontline clinicians, and the project could be rolled out on a national level.
Department has a ball to raise cash STAFF, friends and patients from the physiotherapy department at a Taunton hospital have held a Spring Ball to raise money for new equipment for the department. They been raising funds to revamp the gymnasium at Musgrove Park and have so far raised over £7,500. Trish Acton, clinical lead for physiotherapy said ”The whole 8
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department and many of our patients and their friends and families have really got behind the fund raising. It has been a real community effort to help provide our patients with the best possible equipment to enhance their rehabilitation and maximise their goals – whether it’s returning to work or getting back to sport.”
Electrical stimulation leads to hit-and-run victim taking first steps By Dominic Musgrave
we're going to learn a lot more every day.
A HIT-and-run victim paralysed from the waist down has stood up on his own and taken his first steps after pioneering treatment.
“It opens up a huge opportunity to improve the daily functioning of these individuals.
Rob Summers, 25, is the first patient to respond to the therapy, which involves electrical stimulation of the spinal cord. The treatment, which took 30 years to develop, ‘teaches’ the spinal cord to control limbs and body functions independently of the brain. It was developed by a team of scientists from the University of Louisville, UCLA and the California Institute of Technology. Rob, who is normally confined to a wheelchair, has been able to push himself up and stand for several minutes without assistance at the Frazier Rehab Institute in Louisville. With help, he has taken repeated steps on a treadmill, and has regained some sexual and bladder function.
“Electrodes are implanted in the spine (EES) to stimulate communication between nerves bringing information from the legs and neurons that control movement (sensory input). With training this feedback loop bypasses the brain allowing the patient to stand and walk.” Rob had two years of training to learn the muscle movements necessary to stand and take assisted steps. Then a device was implanted in his back to stimulate the lower spinal cord. He added: ‘For someone who for four years was unable to move even a toe, to stand on my own is the most amazing feeling.
He can also move his toes, ankles, knees and hips on command.
“To be able to pick up my foot and step down again was unbelievable. My physique and muscle tone has also improved greatly. I believe that epidural stimulation will get me out of this chair.”
Professor Susan Harkema from the Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center at the University of Louisville, added: “It is really critical to be clear that it's still in a research realm, but stay tuned
The research was supported by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the charity founded by Superman actor Christopher Reeve and his wife.
Derek to open roadshow
ONE of the British soldiers who provided inspiration for the birth of the charity Help for Heroes will officially open this year’s Mobility Roadshow. Four years ago Private Derek Derenalagi, pictured above, lost both his legs in an explosion while on patrol in Helmand province; today he walks on two ‘bionic’ legs and is hopeful of a place in the GB Paralympics squad, having broken two British records in shot put and now training hard to repeat his success in discus and javelin. Following the Roadshow official opening Derek will meet visitors, sharing his own experience in the hope of inspiring others – especially those newly disabled – and viewing the latest innovations in products and concepts to help disabled people like himself to lead lives that are independent and fulfilling. This year’s event on June 30 at the East of England Showground, Peterborough features a new design zone, an expanded sports arena and the return of the popular Cyclefest. Also new for this year is a mobility advice and visitor information service, plus a virtual ‘personal shopper’ facility.
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Flight Lieutenant Tim Bendall speaks with Air Vice Marshal Chris Morris at the opening
RAF centre launched THE Royal Air Force has launched a pioneering rehabilitation and physiotherapy centre at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. The new centre, which aims to improve the provision of aviation-specific physiotherapy, was officially opened by air vice marshal Chris Morris, chief of staff (health) RAF, and director general of medical services (RAF). He said: “We have Headley Court at the top end; in the intermediary stage we have Regional Rehabilitation Units and now at unit level we have Primary Care Rehabilitation Facilities. The model at RAF Benson is the ideal and it is something that we’re aiming to replicate elsewhere to enable our community, and in particular our aircrew, to benefit in the future.” The facility will focus on treating the physiological problems commonly experienced by aircrew, such as back and neck problems, caused by sitting in cramped positions on aircraft for long periods of time. The new centre will also enhance existing rehab services for all military personnel at the base, including engineers and ground crew staff.
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Arthritis sufferer finds pain relief in shoe insert A CHEADLE man who has suffered arthritis for many years has found pain relief in a simple shoe insert. Trevor Gamson, 77, suffers form knee osteoarthritis and was recruited on to a £1.8m clinical trial based in Manchester which aims to find more effective ways of treating this common condition. Until now the treatment has been limited to painkillers or a knee replacement, but a team at the universities of Manchester and Salford is running a series of clinical trials testing different treatments. The effectiveness of special shoes and inserts is being tested in Stockport. Trevor, a retired teacher, spent two hours walking in the gait laboratory at Salford
University, testing five different types of inserts and shoes. He said: "I have very little cartilage left on the inside of my knee and was all set to have the knee replaced because of the awful pain. “But after being sent to the gait clinic at Salford University where I had the insert fitted to my shoe life has been much more bearable." The idea of the insert is to move the weight-bearing load away from the kneecap to the right, so the load goes down of the left hand side and reduces the pressure. With the help of his shoe insert Trevor can play golf twice a week and leads and active lifestyle. He added: “Knowing you have that support helps with
the pain. “So I put my shoes with the insert in and off I go. It's certainly been extremely helpful to me and I was happy to take part in the trial as I hope others will benefit from it.” Dr Rich Jones, principal investigator of the trial, said the approach could change the lives of many people. He added: “Mr Gamson has found enormous benefits from his shoe insert, which is provided by the NHS separate to this trial. “But we need to find out if it can help other people too, and which works best. Osteoarthritis of the knee is a huge problem and our approach could make a huge difference to millions of people.”
A specialist spinal injury rehabilitation unit’s expertise and unique approach helps a 28-year-old wheelchair user continue his work in school. Dominic Musgrave found out more.
Unique team helps Darren cope with classroom life WHEN Darren Mitchell broke his neck in a holiday accident just hours after arriving in Spain, his physical fitness and positive outlook seemingly helped him return to work as a PE teacher just seven months later. But teaching sports theory to teenagers at Bradfield College, near Reading, left him exhausted and questioning his future career until he turned to the unique help offered by Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital. Darren was 25 when he broke his C6 and C7 vertebrae when diving into the shallow end of a swimming pool just hours after arriving at a Spanish villa. His injuries left him paralysed from the chest down and with weakness in both his arms. Although he received good basic rehabilitative care at an NHS hospital, once home he was left in the care of general physiotherapists with little specialist knowledge about spinal injury. Darren told Assistive Technologies that, after a year back at school, the lack of expert care left him unfit and unable to carry on. He said: “After the accident I was positive and tried to think about how I could do things so it didn’t change my life. “But after a year I was absolutely exhausted, having neglected my own physical state. The realisation hit me that trying to do everything was too tiring.”
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Darren Mitchell with Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital physios.
He enlisted the help of the Aylesbury-based hospital, which has worked intensively with tetraplegic and paraplegic patients on a daily basis for almost 30 years. Its expertly unified team includes physiotherapists offering custom care, qualified hydrotherapists on hand to give patients one-to-one therapy in the clinic’s hydrotherapy pool, and occupational therapists equipping patients for independent living. “They’ve done a lot of work with me in the hydrotherapy pool, as
well as on the cycle and with weights,” Darren added. “They’ve given me quite a strict and challenging programme. I was a swimmer before the accident and know the physical benefits of it. I knew I wanted to swim, but I didn’t know how I was going to do it. They’ve shown me and have gradually pushed me more and more with it.” As well as boosting Darren’s fitness levels to give him the energy and enthusiasm to return to the classroom, RBH physiotherapists
have also helped him use callipers. These are strapped to his legs to help him stand and walk, allowing him to get away from his wheelchair. “The physios took me right back to the beginning,” he added. “They said if I wanted to use the callipers I needed upper body strength, so that’s what we worked on first. Then I had to learn how to put them on myself, and then how to stand up on my own. I respond to these small goals much better.”
Dr Chris Steele
Television doc inspires treatments by students PHYSIO students studying at Manchester Metropolitan University are now offering acupuncture and physiotherapy treatments after a new clinic was offered by television’s Dr Chris Steele. Teaching staff at the university’s physiotherapy department – one of the largest in the country – will run the on-site clinic for staff, students and locals, but physio students will also get the opportunity to practise on patients, under supervision from teaching staff. The clinic was opened as the
university offers a new course in acupuncture, one of only seven universities in the country to do so, which requires a clinic as part of the teaching. Dr Pennie Roberts, head of the department of health professions at the university, said: “We needed to open a clinic for the new acupuncture course and it seemed a good idea to offer physiotherapy as well. “I’ve been practising acupuncture since 1985 and I know there’s a close synergy between the disciplines.’
Researchers look at playtime barriers
ENGINEERING and sociology researchers at the University of Leeds are joining forces to make playtime fun for all children. Dr Raymond Holt, from the School of Mechanical Engineering, and Dr Angharad Beckett, from the School of Sociology and Social Policy, are now embarking on a three-year project to work out what stops disabled and non-disabled children from playing together. They will explore the role that designers might play in overcoming these barriers, in a bid to make school playtime genuinely inclusive. The researchers plan to work with at least six friendship groups of two or three children from years three and four. Each group will contain at least one child who has a physical impairment, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. “Disabled children don't want to feel that they have to play on their own,” said Raymond. “In a previous project, we worked with groups of children with cerebral palsy to design equipment that would strengthen their muscles. The children told us that they would be much more likely to use the devices if they could do so 14
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while playing with their friends. “Social play is recognised as being an important part of any child’s personal and social development, yet for disabled children, the opportunities for play can be limited. “This project provides the first step in a collaboration that will underpin future research into developing and supporting inclusive play – with disabled children at the heart of the research.” The children will be asked about how they play together and also, how they would like to play together. They will then be encouraged to suggest ideas for toys, games or playground features that could overcome some of the barriers they have identified. They will also help test some of their proposed solutions to see what works best. The interdisciplinary project, 'Together through Play', is being funded by the Leverhulme Trust. All prototype devices that are designed and tested as part of the project will comply with European directives on the safety of toys. The children will also be supervised at all times when playing with the prototypes.
An army captain has become the first amputee to reach the North Pole unsupported on a charity expedition to the Arctic. Dominic Musgrave reports.
North Pole first for army captain Guy GUY Disney was one of four wounded servicemen who completed the Walking With The Wounded trek to raise money for charities supporting ex-service people. He lost his lower limb below the knee when his unit was ambushed while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2009. During the fire fight his leg was pierced by a rocket propelled grenade. The team, which also included two charity founders, completed the 190-mile trek in 13 days, three earlier than they had hoped and faster than many able-bodied teams. Guy told Assistive Technologies that, at their lowest, temperatures got down to -38°C. He added: “It was an incredible experience – one of the most memorable of my life. We were pretty lucky with the weather and the conditions because we had stable ice.I opted for the Blatchford Endolite Blade, and took two with me in case I needed a spare because we were worried that the carbon fibre might splinter or the glue come apart due to the cold weather. “My stump did get quite sore at times towards the end of the trek, but apart from that and the awkwardness of having to warm up a plastic mould over a little
Pictured top: Guy Disney and, above: The team at the North Pole cooker each morning it all went really well.” Guy worked with Pace Rehabilitation and a prosthetic team at Headley Court to develop his prosthetic especially for the expedition. It was created using carbon fibre rather than metal to prevent it from being affected by the cold and was designed to have as few working parts as possible, to cut down on the risk of breakage or malfunction. Prince Harry, a charity patron, joined the team for part of the
trek, and was the first person to congratulate them via satphone. Prime Minister David Cameron also sent a letter of encouragement, which was also opened at the finish, along with a bottle of champagne to toast The Queen. Guy added: “Prince Harry was great fun and a really valuable member of the team. Having him on board also gave the fundraising a major boost. Although we were carrying rifles, thankfully we also didn’t see any polar bears because we were warned that if we did it meant bad news.”
Charity founder Ed Parker is already planning the next challenge, a trek to the summit of Mount Everest in the next climbing season. Guy is unable to join that challenge, but is hoping rumours of a similar expedition to the South Pole the following year are true. The expedition is approximately a quarter of the way to raising £2m for charities including Help for Heroes, Skill Force, Blesma and The Warrior Programme. To contribute please visit: www.justgiving.com/walkingwithth ewounded.
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16 & 17
Charity earns awards nomination THE Spinal Cord Injuries Association has been nominated for a prize at the Charity Awards. The charity, which provides support to people with spinal cord injuries and their families as they rebuild their lives after paralysis, has been shortlisted from a record number of nominations in the disability category. If it wins its category the charity will also be in the running to pick up the overall award for excellence in charity management – a prestigious award given to the best of the 10 category winners. The annual ceremony, sponsored by the Charities Aid Foundation, The Leadership Trust and The Times, take place in London next month, with attendees including comedian Hugh Dennis, author Monica Ali, star of Strictly Come Dancing Bruno Tonioli and newsreaders Krishnan Guru Murthy and Andrea Catherwood.
Next-generation bebionic unveiled by company RSL Steeper has unveiled the next generation of it fully articulating, myo-electric hand, bebionic. Combining ease of control with elegance of design, bebionic v2 is available in a new medium size and features major improvements to grip, speed, accuracy and durability, in addition to new grip patterns and software features. Updated features include upgraded individual motors for significantly higher operating speeds. Additional grip patterns have been introduced including a precision grip, improved tripod grip, mouse grip, for operating a computer mouse, and trigger grip. The gripping ability of each digit has also been significantly improved with the addition of soft, textured finger pads and a wider thumb profile. Product sales director Paul Steeper said the new medium size hand suits people with smaller frames, making it available to a much greater number of potential users. He added: “We have made substantial improvements to our ground-breaking bebionic hand, making it faster, more accurate, easier to programme and more robust. “ New grip patterns open up increased functionality and enable the hand to complete a greater number of everyday tasks, and these can now be more easily configured thanks to improvements to the
bebalance software.” bebionic was originally launched at the Orthopadie Technik world conference in Leipzig, Germany in May 2010.
Partnership introduces Accolade gaming system designed double to help stroke patients By Dominic Musgrave
SCIENTISTS have teamed up with a leading international medical technology company to help improve the lives of stroke sufferers. Myomo, a company based in Massachusetts, USA, has linked up with the University of Ulster’s School of Computing and Information Engineering, and the School of Health Sciences, who have developed a gaming system designed to help patients recover use of arm function damaged by stroke. The Ulster researchers have developed virtual reality games that work as a therapeutic training system. The system, known as myGames, encourages patients with motor disorders of the arm and hand to practice physical exercise in a series of realistic scenarios in which
the virtual objects respond to the movement of the patient.
incorporated for use with myGames.
Dr Michael McNeill, senior lecturer in computing science and one of the game designers in the Ulster team, said: “As a standalone product, myGames allows people impaired by stroke to have fun while performing repetitive movements that have been clinically proven to promote motor recovery.
The mPower 1000 is a sleeve that the patient puts around their arm, and is based on technology developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Combining Myomo’s neurorobotics with myGames results is a potentially very effective therapeutic program aimed at the increasing the ability to perform functional tasks.”
When a person with a weak or partially paralysed arm tries to move, and a muscle signal fires in the arm, the robotics in the mPower 1000 engage to assist in completing the desired movement.
Although the product can work as a standalone therapy, the University of Ulster design can now work with a new product from Myomo.
In helping achieve desired movement, the device can be worn as a functional aid, used during exercise to maintain gains or applied as a rehabilitation device that re-teaches arm movement to the brain.
This company has recently launched a new neuro-robotic arm brace – the mPower1000 – that can be
The sleeve has sensors that sit on the skin’s surface and detect even a very faint muscle signal.
SCIENTISTS and clinicians involved in arthritis research at Newcastle University are celebrating the award of two prestigious accolades which confirm their status as leaders in the field. Newcastle University's Musculoskeletal Research Group in the Faculty of Medical Sciences has been awarded “Centre of Excellence” status by the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR). The team has also been recognised by medical research charity Arthritis Research UK for its “outstanding contribution” to the charity as it celebrates its 75th anniversary. John Isaacs, professor of clinical rheumatology, said: “These achievements provide a wonderful endorsement of the hard work performed by numerous individuals over the past 15 years, as well as to the integration of the teams in the laboratory and in the clinic. It is a tough challenge to achieve international recognition in medical science but we deserve to be where we are.” Arthritis Research UK = funds more than £6.5m into research in Newcastle.
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A lucky discovery involving a university academic has shown that a simple illusion can significantly reduce – and in some cases even temporarily eradicate – arthritic pain in the hand. Dominic Musgrave reports.
‘Brain trick can half arthritic hand pain’ BY tricking the brain into believing that the painful part of the hand is being stretched or shrunk, researchers at the University of Nottingham were able to halve the pain felt by 85 per cent of sufferers they tested. The study could point to new technologies of the future which could assist patients in improving mobility in their hand by reducing the amount of pain they experience while undergoing physiotherapy. Dr Roger Newport, who is leading the research in the School of Psychology, said the team stumbled on its finding during a community open day at the University last year. He added: “The majority of people who come to these fun events are kids - the illusions really capture their imagination and they think it's a cool trick and can become a bit obsessed with working out how we do it. “During the course of the day the grandmother of one of the children wanted to have a go on some of the MIRAGE body distortion illusion technology we use, but warned us to be gentle because of the arthritis in her fingers. “We were giving her a practical demonstration of illusory finger
Dr Roger Newport of The University of Nottingham and Dr Catherine Preston of Nottingham Trent University.
stretching when she announced: “My finger doesn't hurt any more,” and asked whether she could take the machine home with her. We were just stunned – I don't know who was more surprised, her or us.” The team immediately contacted a local osteoarthritis support group
and asked them to take part in a series of tests to confirm the effectiveness of MIRAGE for pain relief. The study attracted 20 volunteers with an average age of 70, all clinically-diagnosed with arthritic pain in the hands and/or fingers and none medically managing their pain on the day by
anything stronger than paracetamol. Before starting the test they were asked to rate their pain on a 21point scale, with 0 indicating no pain and 20 representing the most unbearable pain imaginable. The team then compared the MIRAGE body illusion to just physically pushing and pulling on the painful parts of the volunteers’ hands to test the effect on their pain. Other control tests were conducted by stretching or shrinking a non-painful part of the hand and visually enlarging or reducing the whole hand. The results showed a marked reduction in pain – on average halving the discomfort for 85 per cent of volunteers. Some reported greater reduction in pain for stretching, some for shrinking and some for both. The pain reduction only worked when painful parts of the hand were manipulated.
The MIRAGE machine in action
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I JUNE/JULY 2011
The team are hopeful their finding could be the first step towards new technologies for physiotherapy, allowing health professionals to reduce the pain for sufferers while exercising their joints.
New exercise device to help solve patient problems after surgery By Dominic Musgrave
MORE than 3,500 visitors are expected to attend Naidex Scotland at the SECC in Glasgow this September.
A NEW device has been unveiled that can be used to exercise the ankle, foot and lower limbs as part of a rehabilitation programme for patients experiencing problems following surgery.
Formerly known as Independent Living Scotland, the biannual event on September 14 and 15 will showcase the best in independent living and mobility aids from more than 180 exhibitors.
RehabAngel consists of a platform on which the patient stands, can be set to different angles and altered for different foot types. Depending on the incline or decline angle used, different muscle groups are exercised, and the device also allows for morecontrolled rehabilitation of the lower limb. It is the brainchild of Neil Frame, specialist podiatrist at East Cheshire NHS Trust, who said it can also be used as part of a rehabilitation programme for athletes recovering from injury. “The idea came about as a result of my long-term interest in biomechanics,” he added. “I am dyslexic and have always believed this has helped me to analyse and understand the intricacies of human movement from a different perspective. “The device has had a quick uptake by local football clubs like Stoke City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tranmere Rovers, Stockport County and FC United of
Thousands expected at Naidex Scotland
Features at the show include the Inspiration Theatre, previously known as the Lifestyle Theatre, an interactive forum where visitors can listen to inspirational case studies. Neil Frame with Alistair Campbell.
Manchester. Although it is a brand new piece of rehabilitation equipment, professionals are already realising the potential for speeding up rehabilitation of lower limb injuries, diagnostic capabilities, not to mention how useful the RehabAngel is for training and injury prevention.” It was developed in conjunction with TrusTECH, the North West NHS innovation hub, Wolverhampton-based firm MDTi, Medical Devices Technology International and researched at the UCLan, University of Central
Lancashire. Mike Farrar, chief executive of NHS North West and Sports Tsar to the Department of Health, added: “The RehabAngel is a great example of the NHS working successfully in partnership with industry to offer great benefits to patients recovering from sportsrelated injuries, knee surgeries and those whose health is impacted by long-term conditions.” The device was officially launched by UK Olympic triathlete Vanessa Raw.
Help for Heroes cash to fund new rehab centre A NEW rehabilitation centre for injured service personnel is to be built in Devon, thanks to a £20m donation from Help for Heroes.
Naval Base in Plymouth will be replaced with an accommodation centre including a hydrotherapy pool and gym.
The temporary facilities at Devonport
The centre will help service personnel
recover from their injuries. The charity Help for Heroes has pledged the funds for the facilities, which are expected to be completed in July 2012.
The Communication Village, home to the latest communication aids and assistive technology, and the Car Zone, where many of the UK’s leading vehicle converters, will be exhibiting the latest wheelchair assisted vehicle developments. KideQuip, is dedicated to children with special needs, where visitors and healthcare professionals will be able to meet and discuss individual products with exhibitors. Healthcare professionals will also be able to attend the free CPD seminars supported by The College of Occupational Therapists and the Healthcare Professional Council. The programme is again being put together by Kate Sheehan, a leading independent occupational therapist accredited for the previous highly popular and successful CPD seminar programmes at Naidex.
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New brace relieves effects of runner’s knee OTTO Bock Healthcare has launched an innovative new knee brace that relieves the effects of anterior knee pain or runner’s knee – the most frequent activity-related injury of the joint that affects 25 per cent of physically active people. Patella Pro helps relieve stiffness, tendinitis, feelings of blockage and general pain when running, exercising or walking up and down stairs. It also offers support against conditions including double jointedness and muscle atrophy. Offering maximum stability to improve mobility, strength and coordination, Patella Pro is individually adjustable depending on patient needs and its slim, bi-elastic and lightweight design makes it extremely comfortable and easy to put on and take off.
Mark helps company expand its prosthetic and orthotic clinical services DORSET Orthopaedic is expanding its prosthetic and orthotic clinical services in the Midlands by welcoming the arrival of Mark Woolsey at its Burton upon Trent clinic. He joins the company with a wealth of skills and experience, latterly as a lead clinician working with injured UK troops at Headley Court rehabilitation. Having worked as a prosthetist in Singapore and Bangkok, Mark worked with Thai athletes competing in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. With further experience gained in Queen Mary’s Hospital (Roehampton), he has developed a strong reputation for providing a caring and attentive level of service, particularly with individuals wishing to develop their sporting or highactivity skills. Mark added: “Having gained so much knowledge over the past ten years, I am excited at the prospect of joining the team at Burton upon
Trent and offering a high-quality service to those amputees in the Midlands.” During his time at Headley Court Mark built up a strong expertise in fitting complex prosthetics for
soldiers requiring prostheses for up to all four limbs. He will join clinical manager Mark Ledger, who has led the successful expansion of Dorset Orthopaedic into the Midlands.
Langer opened its doors for a practitioners’ open day. The event included a tour of the lab and all the manufacture processes, an in-depth look into the products on offer and how best to use them, a practical education session on different methods of casting, and prescription writing training. The free service is available to any group of three or more people (customers and noncustomers).
Firm focuses on delivering outstanding, innovative products WITH more than 30 years’ experience Tynetec is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of warden call systems, telecare/telehealth equipment, access control systems and wireless nurse call solutions. The company’s product portfolio is all designed and manufactured by a dedicated team at its Northumberland head office in the UK. Tynetec supplies equipment to hundreds of local authorities and housing associations, and with its recent acquisition of Aid Call, the organisation is expanding its 20
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I JUNE/JULY 2011
operations into the hospital and care home markets. The firm is committed to providing customers with choice and flexibility through the supply of future proofed products that work on open protocols and deliver the most cost effective long term ownership. Tynetec focuses on delivering outstanding, innovative products that enable older and vulnerable people the opportunity to live independently for longer, with or without the addition of carer support.
Plymouth students tend to sore legs and feet at half marathon PODIATRY and physiotherapy students from the University of Plymouth’s Faculty of Health were on hand to bring relief to sore legs and feet at the annual Half Marathon. The podiatry undergraduates were standing by to tackle blisters, broken toe nails and bruises, as well as give out general foot care advice to participants. And the physiotherapy students helped runners to warm down by providing sports massage for cramped calf muscles and hurting hamstrings. They also provided advice on other musculoskeletal injuries common in runners, such as low back pain. It is the fourth year that the University has supported the Plymouth Half Marathon, and 20
students volunteered on the day, supported by several professional staff. Associate professor Bernhard Haas, deputy head of the School of Health Professions, said it provided a valuable learning opportunity for the students. He added: “It is a very dynamic environment, and quite different to the one that the students would usually experience. There were lots of runners coming in for attention, and some needed urgent treatment. The students were required to think quickly and make decisions on the spot. “It was also a chance to volunteer for a very worthwhile community event, and one that grows in stature every year. Our students really enjoyed helping the athletes on the day.”
Unique tendon clinic opens in North West By Dominic Musgrave A UNIQUE tendon clinic that will help members of the public while developing better treatments has opened in the North West. The University of Salford’s tendon clinic will offer full orthopaedic, clinical and podiatric assessment – including a treadmill video analysis, orthotics (shoe inserts) and guided rehabilitation from specialists. Patients who meet the criteria will also be able to take part in research which will mean that they will get a full biomechanical assessment in the state-of-the-art gait laboratory, utilising motion and force analysis, an ultrasound scan of their tendon along with measurement of its mechanical properties. Steve Aspinall from the School of Health, Sport and Rehabilitation Sciences will manage the centre. He said: “This is a unique opportunity for local people to have their health assessed by leading professionals in world class facilities. “Not only that, but the results from these clinics will be used to make a real difference to others through our research.”
Tendinopathy,a condition that can include both inflammation and more commonly, degeneration of a tendon, which can cause pain and a decrease in function, is one of the first conditions to be researched. Among others, it can affect tendons around the shoulder, elbow, wrist, finger, hip, knee, ankle and foot. Usual causes are overuse, injuries during activity and degeneration as part of aging, but whatever the cause it can be significantly debilitating for everyday life, sport and exercise. Steve added: “The objective of combining research with the clinic is to build a database of knowledge which can improve treatment for everyone with a tendon disorder. “Patients at the clinic will be able to contribute to the treatment of future patients, as their data will be used anonymously by a range of experts including sport rehabilitators, physiotherapists, radiologists and foot and ankle specialists. “They will be assessed and treated at the University’s facilities, which include a gait analysis lab used by professional athletes to scientifically measure the way they walk and run.”
First forum attracts over 100 from around the world DELCAM Healthcare partnered with Bath University to launch its first Custom Insole Technology forum. The event looked at the technology and techniques used within the manufacture of custom insoles, and attracted more than 100 speakers and delegates from around the world. Those who attended were treated to a tour of the university’s research facilities and a chance to gain some hands on practice with the Delcam equipment. Talks were given by Craig Payne, senior lecturer at Latrobe University (Australia) and Michel Babin, president of MedTech 22
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3D Inc (Canada). Chris Lawie, healthcare business development manager for Delcam, said: “Delcam recognised the need for a technology event which aimed to bridge the gap between technology and clinical best practice. “The result was a two-day event which attracted around delegates and speakers from as far as Hong Kong, Lebanon, Turkey, America, Canada and Australia. “Subjects from foot scanning to CADCAM to 3D printing custom insoles were covered. Feedback was even better than expected and as a result we plan to do this again next year.”
Trust uses Wii to help older people recover from falls A NORTH West NHS Trust is using the Nintendo Wii to help prevent older people suffering debilitating injuries as the result of falling over. Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust has a dedicated team which runs a falls prevention programme twice a week in Anfield. People who attend the programme complete an eight-week course which includes education sessions and advice for patients from occupational therapists, physiotherapists, a podiatrist and an ‘Otago’ exercise programme designed specifically to prevent falls. As part of the programme staff use fun sports to improve balance, bowling, balance training, golf and yoga. Irene Harvey, clinical lead for the falls team, said: “Elderly patients and people with certain medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to falls, which can lead to serious physical injuries including broken hips and other fractures.
“This can be both damaging physically and mentally, with patients losing their confidence and often their independence, meaning they can no longer be cared for at home and need to live in a care facility. “The aim of programme is to reduce the risk of falls and give people greater mobility and independence. “Many also enjoy the programme as it provides an opportunity to socialise with other people and enjoy new hobbies.” The classes run every Wednesday and Friday afternoon at Venmore Community Care Centre, Hartup Street, Anfield and individuals can be referred to the class by their GP or health professional. Irene added: “The Wii is a great activity in our programme, offering games which improve co-ordination and balance, yet at the same time it’s good fun for the patients and brings a sense of competition and a social element to the classes.”
Pupils challenged to showcase products for people with disabilities SCHOOL pupils embraced their creative talents as they teamed up with engineering students from the University of Sheffield to help advertise new products designed to aid people with disabilities. More than 50 youngsters from across the city were asked to imagine they worked as marketing consultants for a new engineering firm, who produce medical and assistive technologies. The pupils were then challenged to create a poster to showcase products which have been designed by students from the University’s Faculty of Engineering. Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, senior lecturer at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: “Our commitment to raise the aspirations of gifted and talented young minds was the chief motivation for this event. “We are delighted that pupils from four local schools embraced the opportunity to visit the University of Sheffield to learn a little bit about what our engineering students do and what engineering is about.” The products designed by the engineering students form part of an ongoing project to help Kieron Norton, a local 11-yearold boy who suffers from cerebral palsy. Using their engineering skills, students have designed commercially feasible products that will aid him and other sufferers of cerebral palsy to operate more easily in their dayto-day life. Ideas from the University students are currently in the initial concept design stage and range from products to help sufferers turn a page easily to accessible board games.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I JUNE/JULY 2011
Study reveals how shoe design affects child development By Dominic Musgrave A NEW research study from footwear brand Stride Rite has revealed how shoe design affects child development. The results show how the construction of a shoe can affect gait, stability and plantar loading throughout different stages of learning to walk. The study was conducted over a two year period in partnership with the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and the California College of Podiatric Medicine. Dr Paul Scherer, lead researcher, said: “The striking results of this study shed light on the very important but under-researched topic of child foot development. “When we approached the research, the only available information on
child foot development was based on opinions nearly 50-years-old.” Its focus was to understand children’s foot development milestones in order to identify if shoe flexibility should vary for each development stage. Researchers examined how different characteristics of shoes affected children’s gait patter, plantar pressures and stability while performing functional tasks through an obstacle course – all while wearing shoes of varying flexibility, and barefoot. They found that children wearing properly fitting, ultra flexible shoes experienced fewer stumbles and falls when learning to walk. Sharon John, Stride Rite president said: “We will continue to collaborate with expert pediatric podiatrists and pediatricians to
Foot fact file ... ! The least number of stumbles and falls occurred when the children were barefoot or wearing the shoe with the highest flexibility. Peak plantar pressures were often highest in the most flexible shoe in comparison to barefoot. ! For children in the early stages of walking, the goal is to maximize plantar loading to provide the clearest proprioceptive feedback so that the child learning to walk may build a successful motor program. understand the complexities of children's foot development and work closely with them to achieve
! A shoe must fit, shape, mold and flex to and with the foot to achieve Match Foot Movement (meaning that shoes support and follow the natural movement of the foot). ! Mature walkers had significantly higher plantar pressures for the majority of the foot when compared to early walkers. As a child develops and increases activities and movement ability, shoes need more structure, protection and durability. our goals of advancing children's footwear through leading-edge innovation.”
Young athletes being ‘driven to the brink’ A LEADING sports injury expert says many young athletes are being ‘driven to the brink’ by coaches. Vel Sakthivel, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, has warned the pressure on budding youngsters to perform is contributing to a rise in injuries among under 16s. He said: “We are seeing an increase in the number of sports injuries in children each year, ranging from serious ligament damage and fractures, to strains and sprains, and the pressure applied by coaches is to blame on many occasions. “Kids are told if they want to make it big they need to put up with the aches, pain and niggling injuries – almost a ‘toughen you up’ culture – and that is driving many to the brink of serious damage to their bodies.” Vel, who recently launched a dedicated paediatric sports injury clinic at the hospital, is concerned at the irresponsible behaviour displayed by some coaches – which he has even witnessed in his own treatment room. He added: “I have encountered coaches who attend consultations with children and tell me injuries are not possible on equipment such as trampolines because they have a soft 24
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surface and patients who come to me and say their coaches have urged them to continue despite complaints of pain. I also often see many who aren’t educated on the need for moderation and it worries me that some coaches at very competitive levels show a lack of understanding of the implication of injury to the growing body. "The benefits of strenuous sporting activities should be balanced against children’s health needs and professional coaches need to be aware of that.” Vel says he is not deterring children from participating in sporting activity, but urges parents and children to be cautious and have realistic expectations. “It is a difficult situation for parents and one that is understandable,” he said. “If someone comes and tells you your child has a skill and they want to nurture it and make them the best they can be, of course you would say yes. Sport is great and, with the Olympics around the corner, uptake is likely to increase heavily in a number of areas, but the best young athletes are those with the right balance and educated mentoring and that is what I urge parents to look for.”
sponsors sports rehab
Physio Andy joins support team in coast-to-coast endurance test By Dominic Musgrave A SPECIALIST physiotherapist from Ripon is preparing for a trip across the USA supporting a team of cyclists on a 3,000-mile bike riding challenge. Andy Wray, who runs his own clinic, AVA Physiotherapy Ltd, in the city, has been hand-picked by Hampshire-based Team-Feat to join its 10-man support crew as its four cyclists prepare for the Race Across America (RAAM) coast-to-coast endurance test. The team, which is raising money for Southampton-based Wessex Heartbeat for improving cardiac care, aims to cover the distance in just six days, cycling non-stop for 24 hours a day with the riders taking it in turns in a constant relay which will require them to maintain an average speed of nearly 21mph.
Specialist physiotherapist Andy Wray who is heading for America
Andy, who also works at Physio Action Ltd’s Harrogate clinic, and with the Army in Catterick treating injured servicemen and women – is no stranger to sporting success himself having played rugby league
professionally for eight years with Featherstone Rovers, Batley Bulldogs, and Hunslet Hawks. He said: “Sadly, due to injuries, I was unable to continue playing so embarked on a physiotherapy degree with the aim of continuing my physical connection with the sport I loved. “My own private clinic focuses on prehabilitation and rehabilitation of
elite athletes pre- and postcompetition. “Currently I am working with amateur and professional rugby players, football players, tri-athletes, ultra-marathon runners and many other sporting genres.” Andy will travel to the USA along with Team-Feat on June 14, four days before the race starts in Oceanside, California.
Firm launches new accredited treadmill IN addition to its IFI accredited PRO1 Upper Body, PRO2 Total Body and ISO7000R Recumbent Bike, SCIFIT has unveiled the launch of its new accredited treadmill.
feature to assist users with a visual impairment. The yellow outlined emergency stop button also delivers added safety for the user and peace of mind for the facility owner.
The firm’s treadmills feature low starting speeds, large user capacity and a comfortable, oversized walking surface. With IFI accreditation at Stage 2, the new AC5000 IFI model has all the same features as the standard AC5000 treadmill together with full-length side handrails and treadmill step supplied as standard for extra stability and support.
Bob Whitlock, UK sales director, said: “The new treadmill is the perfect addition to our IFI range. Together with the two PRO Series models and the recumbent bike we are offering a total body solution for a truly inclusive cardio workout.
The running boards of the treadmill have non-slip rubber and are outlined in yellow as an additional IFI
“The IFI models deliver an equally effective workout for both disabled and non-disabled users alike and can offer the smaller facility a complete solution or integrate alongside other machines within an existing facility.”
Have you got a story for the sports rehabilitation section of Assistive Technologies? Let Dominic Musgrave know by ringing 01226 734407 or email email@example.com 26
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I JUNE/JULY 2011
sponsors sports rehab
Sponsored Stepathon raises cash for new rehabilitation aids A NORTH West hospital’s physiotherapy department joined forces with a local supermarket to host a sponsored ‘Stepathon’ to raise funds for new rehabilitation and mobility aids. The staff at Macclesfield District General and Sainsbury’s virtually climbed and descended the 8,800m that is Mount Everest by stepping the equivalent height on a single Reebok stepper in teams of three, rotating every hour. 35,200 steps were required to achieve the target. The sponsored ‘Stepathon’ helped to raise money to provide new and updated rehabilitation equipment and mobility aids,making it easier for patients to move and exercise during their rehabilitation sessions, improving the perform-ance of their daily
activities. John Wood, physiotherapist at East Cheshire NHS Trust said: “The therapy services at Macclesfield District General Hospital provide treatment and care to thousands of patients each year. “Having well-equipped and up to date facilities motivates our patients to exercise regularly either on a one-to-one basis with one of our physiotherapists, or in a group session. “It helps them to return to fitness, improve their daily activities and, in many cases allows them to return to work.” The event follows the success of last year’s sponsored ‘Spinathon’ where the physio staff used two bikes on a track system to cycle from London to Paris – just over 300 miles.
TV support for Paralympic sport CHANNEL 4 continued its support for Paralympic sport by broadcasting the recent BT Paralympic World Cup live. The London 2012 Paralympic Games host broadcaster covered the event, which will took place in Manchester, and feature athletics, swimming, wheelchair basketball and demonstrations of boccia and sitting volleyball. Live daily streaming from each sport was also broadcast on the Channel 4 website. Deborah Poulton, Paralympics
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I JUNE/JULY 2011
sports editor at Channel 4, said: “Alongside the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the BT Paralympic World Cup is another opportunity to help increase awareness of Paralympic sport and make the British viewing public the best informed and most engaged in the world.” The BT Paralympic World Cup, which was staged in Manchester for a seventh successive year, is the largest annual international multisport competition in elite disability sport.
Cricketer Mark Ramprakash has been using DJO Global’s to help his rehabilitation after damaging the ACL in his left leg in a freak accident playing in a charity football match last November. After reconstructive surgery he has followed an intense rehabilitation programme which also included swimming and controlled workouts in the gym with his physiotherapist Alex Tysoe. Picture: Alex Tysoe using Compex Professional 3 on Mark Ramprakash’s knee.
Tackling the pain of showbiz ONE of the country’s top academic institutions is to run a course to help care for dancers in pain, musicians with overuse injuries and drag artistes in painful pointy shoes. The new Performing Arts Medicine course begins at University College London in September. The institute is working with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, the Royal College of Music and conservatoire of music and contemporary dance, Trinity
Laban, to run the course in treatment of performing artists. The new MSc / Diploma in Performing Arts Medicine, aimed at healthcare professionals in all relevant fields, will cover musculoskeletal and neuromuscular injury, ergonomics, performance psychology, assessment and rehabilitation. Lasting a year for full-time students or two years part-time, the course is also intended to stimulate research.
Orthopaedic surgeon goes on mission to help warzone injured A SENIOR surgeon from Epsom and St Helier hospitals has recently returned from a two-week mission to a North African warzone. Richard Field, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Elective Orthopaedic Centre at Epsom Hospital was based at Tataouine regional hospital, located near the Libyan border in southern Tunisia. Volunteering for British medical aid agency Merlin, he helped to treat injured refugees who were victims of the civil war in neighbouring Libya. Richard said: “In total, around 270,000 people from the Nafusa mountain region in western Libya fled to Tunisia when the fighting started. “It was a mass exodus, and some towns and villages in that region were depopulated by up to 90 per cent. Unsurprisingly, this puts
immense pressure on local services, especially hospitals. “Local clinicians are doing their very best, but a general lack of modern equipment has strained resources to breaking point. Assuming that all medical facilities around the Libyan border face the same issues, you begin to understand the scale of the emergency.” Tataouine’s location meant hospital staff often found themselves on the frontline, treating those caught up in the fighting. Richard added: “In terms of conflict trauma, we generally dealt with the aftermath of skirmishes – one or two hundred from each side engaged in small-arms fire-fights for a few hours, leaving perhaps four or five dead with others wounded. We treated everyone, regardless of what 'side' they were
on. In the UK we are blessed with first-rate equipment, fantastic facilities and highly trained staff. Tataouine Hospital lacks the equipment and facilities we enjoy, but has a highly motivated and capable workforce who manage to make the best out of limited resources.” Richard has since drafted a detailed report outlining both the situation 'on the ground' and the immediate to medium-term requirements of the hospital as it deals with the consequences of the conflict. The report, commissioned by Merlin, has since been shared with a number of organisations, including the Department for International Development, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Health Organisation.
Researchers secure fellowship awards THREE researchers at a Scottish university have secured research fellowship awards from the Stroke Association and the Chief Scientist Office. Glasgow Caldeonian’s Dr Margaret Lawrence (Institute for Applied Health Research/School of Health), Dr Myzoon Ali and Christine Hazelton, (both based in the Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit) have been awarded a Stroke Association Senior Research Training Fellowship of £139,989, a CSO post-doctoral research training fellowship worth £173,35 and a Stroke Association Junior Research Training Fellowship of £105,000 respectively. All three are supported to undertake a three-year programme of stroke research activity and training. Professor Francine Cheater, director of the Institute for Applied Health Research, said: “These fellowships are excellent news for the three researchers and also for stroke research at Glasgow Caledonia. This significant investment from external funders demonstrates the recognition of the high quality stroke research undertaken here and the excellence of the research training environment.”
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I JUNE/JULY 2011
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You will see improved patient outcome with superior comfort, clean aesthetics and simple hinge for post-operative bracing.
Features and benefits Easy to use Extender hinge sliding struts lead to a more customised fit.
Indications for Use Controlled elbow flexion/extension following surgery or trauma. Enquiries: Telephone 0161 2736789 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW WHEELCHAIR RANGE LAUNCHED THE Progeo range of lightweight innovative manual wheelchairs has been launched in the UK. Manufactured in Italy, Progeo offer style and performance, not seen in manual wheelchairs before. There are a range of colours and accessories to choose from, coupled with advanced material use.
NZ Sock Co., in consultation with expert clinical advisors, has designed a range of technologically advanced socks specifically aimed at those with the potential lower limb problems seen in diabetes, arthritis and rheumatism. Incorporating a unique combination of natural merino wool, renowned for it’s exceptionally high quality fibre, superior softness, strength and durability and Seacell, an innovative, cellulose and seaweed-based fibre with extensive applications for medical textiles and situations where hygiene and cleanliness are important. Lifesocks deliver outstanding preventative and protective features and are designed to reduce friction and pressure, effectively manage temperature and moisture, inhibit bacterial growth, offer a warm and non-constrictive comfort and adapt to the individual shape of the foot. Our trademarked Elastic Support System (ESS) locks the sock onto the foot and the lower leg with minimal compression, providing support particularly under the plantar arch region. Enquiries: For further details contact 07970 834375.
TALARMADE ADDS TRIO PR TO RANGE TALARMADE has added a unique addition to its Trio range designed to achieve return to normal function to the foot and protect the forefoot.
This makes the Progeo a fantastic choice for an active user who wants a custom-built wheelchair which is also a fashion accessory.
By combining features which have previously only been available, in combination, via a custom made device, Talarmade has designed a product which offers genuine opportunity for effective control of damaging pronation forces, with reduction and offloading of forefoot pressures.
The company also stock a wide range of wheelchair and sports accessories, and will be showcasing its range at the Mobility Roadshow in Peterborough between June 30 and July 2 on stand C7.
Enquiries: To find out more about Trio PR contact 01246 268456 or email email@example.com
Enquiries: Visit www.spokz.co.uk or telephone 0845 2577496.
SOLETEC SYSTEM NOW AVAILABLE FROM GILBERT AND MELLISH SOLETEC has developed a state-ofthe-art, fully computerised system which revolutionises the production of high end, true custom foot orthotics. It is straightforward to use, fast, accurate and remarkably low cost. Data from either a small hand-held or a compact floor-mounted measuring device feeds directly into your laptop. You customise the design on screen to produce a virtual orthotic for your patient, then simply upload to either the Soletec lab or your own customised computer milling machine to produce the truly individual device. The system uses no stored library of patterns, as is common practice, so the finished orthotic is truly a custom device. These can either be hard or soft, as required. Also remarkable is the fact that the system will integrate easily with existing computerised milling hardware, so it can be up and running simply and rapidly. Enquiries: Visit www.gilbert-mellish.co.uk or telephone 0121 475 1101.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I JUNE/JULY 2011
CUSTOM CTLSO – THE ANSWER TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS BEAGLE Orthopaedic houses a large spinal database of spinal models to suit a variety of patients. From this extensive library we can manufacture your CTLSO using measures provided from a simple measurement chart, we then adapt the relevant model to meet the specification. Each orthosis is fabricated to the patient’s unique model and your specifications, ensuring the optimum fit, support and comfort. A transfer pattern can be applied to a brace (if required). CTLSO’s are available as bi-valve design finished to completion (no intermediate fitting) with a variety of liners such as cool foam, north foam 33®, evazote® and lambs wool. The TLSO is then coupled with components from the innovative Aspen CTO to provide stability required for your patient in the upper thoracic and cervical region. Available in paediatric and adult sizes, the CTLSO can be delivered in three days (or less for urgent/trauma cases). Enquiries: Contact 01254 268788.