Physiotherapy helps to recover motor function and the movement of joints, muscles and tendons. It aims to improve mobility, strength and balance.
Neurophysiotherapy is a specialist branch of physiotherapy, which involves the assessment and treatment of individuals who have neurological conditions or conditions affecting the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It requires a more holistic approach and a wide-ranging assessment, and to potentially re-route neurological pathways in the brain to recover motor function.
At Richardson Care, some of our service users who have acquired brain injury as well as some of those with learning disabilities benefit from neurophysiotherapy. This is part of a multi-disciplinary approach, which also includes occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry. The therapists work as part of a team to increase the health and well-being of the service users in our care.
Following a brain injury, or because of a neurological condition, individuals may experience muscle stiffness or spasm, muscle weakness, tremor, loss of sensation, difficulties with balance and coordination. All these symptoms can cause difficulties with everyday activities, such as getting out of bed, standing up, getting dressed, walking or eating.
Goals of neurophysiotherapy
The goals of neurophysiotherapy are to improve mobility, strength, flexibility, balance, posture and overall physical function. Because a brain or spinal cord injury affects each individual in a different way, the neurophysiotherapist needs to complete a full assessment and create a treatment plan for each individual. They will evaluate their medical history,
symptoms and physical capabilities to understand the nature and extent of the neurological condition. This includes assessing movement patterns, strength, range of motion, sensory function, balance and co-ordination. They also need to take account of the person’s psychological needs, communication abilities and motivational drivers. They create a treatment plan aimed at achieving the personal goals of each individual.
These goals may be to stand or walk unaided or to increase their independence. Ultimately the purpose of neurophysiotherapy, along with the other therapies and support we provide, is to improve the quality of life of each individual and to enable them to fulfil their potential.
In addition to regular neurophysiotherapy sessions, each individual is supported by the care team to complete exercises and/or improve their physical functioning on a daily basis.
Guy Stewart, is the lead neurophysiotherapist at Richardson Care and he was recently joined by Tyla Page as part of the final year of her Physiotherapy degree at Coventry University. Tyla worked with individuals in our brain injury services full-time for a six-week period and gives us some insight to her experience.
A personal insight into neurophysiotherapy at Richardson Care
Tyla explains: “I’m really interested in working with people who have brain injuries because they are all different. It gave me the opportunity to try different techniques and it is really satisfying to help people achieve their goals. I really enjoyed getting to know the service users, understanding their characters and their likes and dislikes.
“I used a range of techniques from relaxation, stretching/passive stretching, standing practice and balance to walking practice or gym work, especially the parallel bars.
“I needed to be imaginative and included some games, where appropriate, so it was more fun for the service users. I built up some great relationships with the service users and learnt what motivated them to engage in the therapy. It might have been the social aspect of going for a walk with someone, music and relaxation or the desire to increase their independence. During one of the sessions with Guy, one young man who has a brain injury and uses a wheelchair, stood up in a standing frame for the first time, which was brilliant.
“Working with people who have a brain injury means that no two days are the same. Their mood can change quickly so it’s difficult to plan. You have to think on your feet, go with the flow and be creative to still deliver some effective therapy. Sometimes I was able to lift people’s moods but I learnt not to take mood changes personally. I really enjoyed the challenge of not knowing what to expect.
“I absolutely loved the experience and didn’t want it to end! Working with Guy and the team at Richardson Care has made me more passionate about neurophysiotherapy. Two people who have similar injuries may have very different needs so you have to find a different angle. I loved that challenge.”
Congratulations to Tyla who received a First Class Degree in Physiotherapy from The University of Coventry.