Published on January 17, 2017
By Jessica Finnegan, PT, MPT, NCS
This is an exciting time in the world of neurologic physical therapy. Rehabilitation technologies are emerging and research is ongoing to determine the efficacy of these products. In the current healthcare environment, rehabilitation stays are becoming shorter and physical therapists (PTs) must find a way to prioritize which interventions will be most beneficial to their patients. This article discusses several rehabilitation technologies with the hope of helping PTs integrate them into their plans of care to improve mobility in patients recovering from stroke and other neurological disorders.
Convenience, Safety, and Early Mobility
Intensive, repetitive mobility-task training is recommended for all patients with impaired gait after stroke.1 In the past, mobilizing a patient with dense hemiparesis may have required two to three skilled therapists. This has obvious implications for staff efficiency and productivity. In addition, musculoskeletal injuries are commonly reported by healthcare providers and are often associated with manual patient handling.2 Workplace injuries can be a threat to the health and careers of PTs and should be avoided. Darragh and colleagues explored physical and occupational therapists’ experience with safe-patient-handling (SPH) equipment, such as ceiling lifts, floor lifts, and more. This equipment is becoming more widely available, allowing early mobilization of patients with fewer skilled staff members present and reduced risk of injury to the therapist. In this study, therapeutic uses of SPH equipment included transfer training, functional ambulation, and bed mobility.
Therapists also reported using SPH devices to address impaired attention, visual perception, and neglect. Overall, therapists who used SPH equipment “experienced increased options in therapy, accomplished more, and mobilized patients earlier in their recovery.” They also remarked that they needed to co-treat or solicit help from other professionals less frequently, which should improve productivity overall.3…