Earlier this year, INPA member the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital were visited by the Spinal Special Interest Group (SIG) for a tour of the facilities.
The SIG began with an informative presentation of the work they do, their ethos and working practices before moving onto the hands-on tour, experiencing the equipment and therapies they use and meeting and chatting with the highly experienced therapists.
The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital
The Royal Bucks offer a holistic and technologically advanced rehabilitation programme, which is tailored to each patient and has a fully multidisciplinary focus. An inpatient stay can last anywhere from 2 weeks upwards, depending on the complexities of the patient. They pride themselves in their ability to accommodate patients with highly complex needs who had been refused placements elsewhere; they can take ventilated patients, or those with a brain and/or spinal injury. At the current time, the only patients they are not able to accept are paediatric patients, but this is currently being explored.
Facilities and Equipment Available
The spinal members who attended the SIG were able to view the facilities, as well as experience and test out the equipment on offer first hand.
This hands-on tour included:
- A tour of their hydrotherapy pool,
- Presentation and demos by their specialist wheelchair physiotherapist who works with the patient over a three-week period to ensure most appropriate wheelchair(s) is/are identified for each individual
- Presentation by their head speech and language therapist,
- Presentation by their acupuncturist with hands-on demo of K-laser,
- Presentation by their brain injury co-ordinator who works with all patients on goal planning, creating daily routines, providing mood boosting sessions or counselling to those that need it.
- Presentation by their dietician explaining the use of an indirect calometer to calculate exact calorie and dietary requirements on admission. This allows each patient to be at their optimal level and enhances their prospects of successful rehabilitation.
Members who attended the SIG also got to use several of the Hospital’s more innovative devices including:
Exoskeleton and Anti-gravity Treadmill
The physiotherapy team at the Royal Bucks have access to all 4 exoskeletons available on the market. They are all utilised as part of rehabilitation and patients can assess their suitability over an extended period.
In addition to the exoskeletons, they also have an antigravity treadmill, Alter-G which allows them to work with patients who have an incomplete spinal injury or loss of power from a brain injury. This treadmill was developed by NASA to help re-educate astronauts on their return from space. In a clinical sense, this allows the physiotherapists to re-educate patients’ gait by reducing the gravity to allow the remaining muscle power to use the leg and walk. As their muscle strength improves, gravity can be slowly reintroduced. As well as testing out the anti-gravity treadmill, members saw a video of a patient with incomplete injury (Cauda Equina Syndrome) demonstrating astonishing progress during his rehabilitation at the Royal Bucks using the anti-gravity treadmill.
Tyro-therapy and MindMotion Go
The Tyro-therapy and MindMotion Go are two game-based digital therapies designed to practice upper / lower limb or trunk movements to develop everyday skills like brushing teeth, eating or trunk control. When the device is set up for a patient it calibrates to the amount of movement they have allowing the device to be used by patients with even the smallest degrees of movement.
These devices are fun to use encouraging patients to engage with their therapies more consistently and for periods longer than what is usually achievable with standard (and more mundane) therapies. These are also two devices which can be purchased and used at home.
The feedback supplied to the Royal Buckinghamshire by those who attended the open day was incredibly positive. They were impressed not only by the state-of-the-art equipment but also the dedication of the therapists. Their multi-disciplinary and truly holistic approach was clear throughout as was the focus on rehabilitation for functional re-education.
This includes taking patients out of the hospital to practice their skills in a non-clinical setting, as well as working with their families to support them in their reintegration at home.
Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital
The Centre for Specialist Rehabilitation
The hospital offers extensive rehabilitation experience across a range of neurological, spinal, orthopaedic, and other medical conditions requiring rehabilitation. Using a holistic and dynamic approach to treatment, preparing a person-centred care plan for each patient.