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Introduction of the new Meerkat represents a significant development in paediatric standing frames as it bridges the gap between static and dynamic therapy. With targeted and adaptable support, the Meerkat facilities the opportunity for children who require assistance standing, to accelerate their postural control and motor skills through measured instability, whilst optimising therapist intervention.
The R82 Meerkat is a fully adjustable, ergonomic simple stander that offers posterior and anterior support with the option to add a rocker under the base. This rocker provides a dynamic element for children so they can move forwards and backwards – challenging their balance and improving core stability. Based on a well-established theory*, this rocking action enhances development particularly in walking and standing. The rocker can be positioned to change a child's centre of gravity hence a greater range of movement and development is achieved. The Meerkat employs controlled instability to facilitate a learning environment.
Instrumental to effectively challenging balance and postural control is correct body alignment. This is provided by the new R82 ratchet system which delivers tailor-made pelvic, trunk, knee and foot support. Individual ratchets similar to those integrated into ski boots, allow therapists to deliver precision adjustments and de-rotate the chest and pelvis if required. The Meerkat encompasses linear scales on its central and lateral columns so adjustments can be measured and recorded in relation to therapy goals. Each support is easily detachable so a child can continue to be challenged as their movement and control improves. Support is moved down from the child's axilla to their pelvis/hips as their postural control improvements. Children are then encouraged to move from the hips left and right whilst working on the sagittal movement plane facilitated through the rocker base.
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It is a proven theory that children develop postural control from the top down, establishing control segment by segment** – the Meerkat has been specifically designed to enhance this process. A detachable activity tray is supplied for play and engagement.
In terms of benefits to carers and Teaching Assistants (TAs), the Meerkat provides an effective solution requiring less manual intervention. Traditionally dynamic therapy requires support from several therapists which is labour and time intensive. Through its controlled and measured support, the Meerkat facilities single-handed dynamic programmes, hence staff resources are maximised and therapy time is saved. Transferring a child into the Meerkat is aided by the compact base plate which has low ground clearance.
The Meerkat has been in development for over 8 years and encompasses all the world-class research and development that R82 takes pride in delivering throughout its product range. Part of this international programme involved close cooperation with the children and staff at Humberston Park Special School, Lincolnshire. Frances George, resident Specialist Physiotherapist, along with her TA peers introduced the Meerkat into their therapy programmes which resulted in significant results.
Frances explains: "We trialled the Meerkat with three children and all demonstrated accelerated improvement in core stability and postural control, none more so than River aged 4. Before using the Meerkat, River who has Global Developmental Delay, was not familiar with an upright position and it was difficult to specifically challenge his dynamic balance and postural control. To achieve this and a correct body alignment we needed a static stander however adding dynamic movement was impossible. Instead, movement therapy was performed without the stander through the manual support of several TAs however this was resource-intensive even if we were using our trampoline. When we introduced the adaptable Meerkat and its rocker plate it allowed us to support River in a posterior position whilst allowing movement. He absolutely loved it and he really began to develop fast."
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Frances continues: "Now one year on, the development in River's walking is huge. River is one of our pupils who has shown the most improvement in terms of walking pattern, foot clearance, continuation of steps and independence. Today he is fully independent, walking up steps and has graduated from all my therapy programmes. He is off running with little therapy left for me to do."
The new R82 Meerkat leverages established theories regarding therapy through movement in an innovative ergonomic design. It facilitates improved walking, balance, motor skills and gait pattern with a reduced need for hands-on therapist support; it delivers therapy without adult intervention. Children with conditions such as Cerebral Palsy up to GMFCS level 4 can now benefit from faster motor functionality development and greater success with therapy goals.
* ENDS *
* Pavao et al 2013, Pollock et al 2000
** Saavedra et al 2012
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