Origin of the TheraSuit
The TheraSuit was originally designed by Richard and Izabela Koscielny, both therapists and parents of a daughter with cerebral palsy. The idea originated from a spacesuit designed for astronauts to reduce or prevent muscle loss as a result of zero gravity. These space suits were utilised in the early 1990s for children with neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy. Then in 2002, the TheraSuit was created as a specific treatment for cerebral palsy.
The TheraSuit comes in 6 different sizes to accommodate children around 2 years of age through to the suit for adults. The TheraSuit consists of multiple components including: a cap, a vest, shorts, knee pads and separate attachments for both arms and legs. All components have elastic rubber bands which can be adjusted to activate different muscles throughout the body, along with continually increasing resistance as a child progresses through their program. These components provide compression and load the entire body with weight which can improve posture/alignment, increase muscular strength and aid in gait re-training to help the body move appropriately in a child’s environment.
Along with physical corrections, the TheraSuit sends sensory signals to the brain which facilitates improvement to a child’s spatial awareness, proprioception and coordination. The TheraSuit also has a major impact on the vestibular system, which is the centre that processes and relays signals from the muscles, joints and tendons back to the brain. This process has an effect on muscle tone, improves balance and enhances a child’s ability to know where their body is positioned in space. The TheraSuit can aid in reducing their pathological reflexes, allows for proper movement patterns, reduce ataxia, spasticity and many other typical symptoms of cerebral palsy.
TheraSuit Intensive Therapy
Intensive therapy involves a three week program that combines strength training, functional movement using the Therasuit. Therapy is 3 hours a day, 5 days a week for 3 weeks. Programs can be individualised for children as young as 2 and vary in intensity to accommodate therapeutic needs of the individual.
Intensive exercise programs will differ according to the individual, although the main areas that are typically focused on include:
- warm-ups and massage
- sensory integration
- reflex integration
- gait training and body re-alignment
- development of both gross and fine motor skills
- strengthening exercises
Universal Exercise Unit
For many Intensives the Universal Exercise Unit is another therapy tool which works hand in hand with the TheraSuit device. The cage, commonly known as the “monkey cage” or “spider cage”, is an open metal cage specifically designed and equipped with cable pulleys, weights and elastic bungees which can isolate and target individual muscle groups by adding weighted resistance to improve muscular strength. Other functional tasks such as sitting, crawling, walking, standing and jumping can also be targeted within the cage. Additionally the universal exercise unit can be used in a variety of ways to stimulate the vestibular system. The vestibular system is a sensory system that is responsible for providing our brain with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation; it also is involved with motor functions that allow us to keep our balance, stabilize our head and body during movement, and maintain posture.
TheraSuit Therapy Cautions/Warnings
Although TheraSuit therapy is beneficial, the intensives are not for all kids with cerebral palsy. Many different medical conditions can have a negative impact toward intensive therapy. A consult with a trained therapist will make the appropriate assessment and determination on the appropriateness of the TheraSuit. Some of these major medical conditions include:
- High blood pressure
- Any heart or circulatory conditions
- Kidney problems
- Severe Scoliosis
TheraSuit therapy at Centre of Movement
Here at Centre of Movement, we create TheraSuit Intensives individually tailored to each presenting child. We incorporate the TheraSuit and Universal Exercise Unit with a vast range of exercises and activities to give your child the best possible chance to improve their cognitive and physical abilities and overall quality of life. Some of the common tasks that our kids typically perform whilst in the TheraSuit or “Spider cage” include:
- Obstacle Courses
- Balance beam walks
- Walking up and down Steps
- Vibration training for strength and the vestibular system
- Igallop Hippotherapy (our mechanical horse riding device)
- Treadmill and Ceiling Hoist for gait training
- Cage jumping
- Ball games
- Neurodevelopmentally sequenced movement progressions
- Cage muscle isolation for increased muscular strength
- And many more fun and functional tasks that our kids love to do
Be sure to contact Centre of Movement today for any inquiries into the TheraSuit therapy and see if your child is eligible today. The original TheraSuit Method® company and further information can be found here: http://www.suittherapy.com/index.htm
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much"
– Helen Keller