Rehabilitation is defined as “a set of interventions designed to optimize functioning and reduce disability in individuals with health conditions in interaction with their environment.”
Technology used in rehabilitation can help enhance the scope of diagnosis, treatment, and patient recovery. Synaptic utilizes innovative technology and rehabilitation equipment in order to facilitate the recovery of function and improve balance, strength, and range of motion. The use of this technology promotes increased cardiovascular function, improved bone density, pain management, decreased tone/spasms, and contributes to an improved quality of life. It can also be a powerful tool, allowing therapists to objectively assess and quantify functional impairments.
Technologies Used at Synaptic
Synaptic uses a range of technologies in neurological rehabilitation, including:
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)
There are two types of FES devices used at the clinic - the XCITE machine and the RT300 bike. These devices help those who experience difficulty using different muscle groups due to their neurological condition. Electrodes are attached to the skin creating small electrical impulses to the impaired muscles, resulting in a contraction. These contractions can be coordinated by one of our physiotherapists in a pattern to make the limb move. By creating muscle contractions, FES works to reduce muscle atrophy as well as relax muscle spasms, maintain range of motion, increase circulation, and maintain bone density. This can help to improve the communication between the brain and body to increase muscle strength and functional tasks.
The XCITE machine produces functional movement in arm and leg muscles; XCITE can also be used to promote coordinated functional hand movements, including self-feeding, dressing and handwriting.
The RT300 bike allows people with little or no voluntary leg movement to pedal a stationary leg-cycle called an ergometer; it can also be used for arm cycling.
For clients who require increased support or assistance to walk, Synaptic utilizes the Therastride body weight supported treadmill training (BWSTT) system in which a percentage of the client’s body mass is supported by a harness and overhead suspension. Clients walk on a moving treadmill while trainers facilitate proper leg movement and trunk stabilization (as needed). BWSTT has been demonstrated to improve balance, motor recovery, walking speed, and endurance. It can also help to reduce muscle stiffness and increase range of motion.
The E-pacer gait trainer provides body support to overground gait training. Its powerful electric lift column and secure body support allow clients to walk in a safe manner while therapists provide as much support/assistance as necessary.
Hunova Balance Platform
The Hunova is an innovative robotic balance system that allows for objective evaluation and effective rehabilitation of static (stationary) and dynamic (moving) balance deficits. The Hunova can be used to address balance difficulties for a wide spectrum of people, from athletes to those with highly complex neurological conditions.
The balance platform provides feedback at a visual, auditory and proprioceptive level and uses games to enhance client engagement and motivation. Feedback includes information on weight distribution, trunk position and stability, and the position of the body in space to help improve body awareness. The Hunova also allows the simulation of real life scenarios, for example, riding on a bus, that otherwise could not be replicated in a clinical setting. The platform can be used in both a seated and standing position and the level of difficulty can be adjusted to suit a range of client abilities.
PoNS™ (Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator)
PoNS™ is a portable device that produces mild stimulation of the tongue. Clients have described the sensation on the tongue as feeling like pop-rocks or champagne bubbles. The combination of stimulation with targeted training may enhance neuroplasticity, which results in functional improvements in balance and walking.
Research shows that the PoNS™ device can improve chronic balance deficits caused by traumatic brain injury and gait deficits caused by multiple sclerosis. The PoNS™ treatment program delivered at Synaptic is a comprehensive, 14-week program combining in-clinic and in-home use of the device, guided by a certified PoNS™ trainer. The trainer performs assessments to determine baseline functional status and guides goal-specific therapy.
The use of technology in neurological rehabilitation provides significant benefits, including improved efficiency of therapy, objectivity in measuring and recording client data, and promotion of neuroplasticity and functional improvements. We invite you to learn more about the clinic and how we use therapeutic technology to facilitate recovery by visiting Synaptic’s Virtual Village.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Jillian Mack, MScPT BKin, Physical Therapist, PoNS Trainer