Swiss doctor visits NHS Trust to learn about rebound therapy


A doctor from Switzerland has made a special visit to the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to learn more about rebound therapy carried out by physiotherapists.

Dr Bertino Somaini, who is a director of Health Promotion Switzerland, and his colleague, Christian Mehr, visited to look at how the Trust uses trampolines in rebound therapy and the Huddersfield Functional Index, and to build networks to share positive practice in relation to mental health and wellbeing.

The Huddersfield Functional Index was the first outcome measurement system specific to rebound therapy and was first developed by Richard Watterston, principal physiotherapist, older people’s service.

Richard’s book detailed the Huddersfield Functional Index rebound therapy outcomes and Dr Bertino was keen to talk to him about whether the outcome measure was suitable for the sort of work that he was involved with.

Rebound therapy is the use of a trampoline as a treatment tool to obtain specific clinical improvements and is a very flexible treatment technique that was developed about 20 years ago by Eddie Anderson, a physiotherapist working with adults with learning disabilities.

The therapy is now widely used with adults with learning disabilities and is beginning to be used with other groups of patients, particularly children.

The learning disabilities service in Wakefield and Dewsbury and the adult service in Wakefield use a full size trampoline for rebound therapy and have seen a number of benefits.

The treatment approach can increase the depth of a persons breathing, acting as a way of treating or reducing chest infections or increasing the person’s ability to vocalise.

Slow, gentle bounces in a sitting position can decrease a person’s muscle tone and promotes physical relaxation, whereas higher bounces in standing can significantly increase a person’s muscle tone if it is already low. The act of bouncing provides a lot of sensory stimulation to the person and the flexibility and movement of the trampoline bed helps improve balance reactions.

In his work Dr Bertino uses smaller trampolines that respond quite differently. The Trust has little experience of using this type of trampoline, but can see great possibilities for it, especially in adult and older people’s services.

Rebound therapy is not widely used in Switzerland, but Dr Bertino wants to look at potential areas of benefit for using his type of trampoline. He has already some indications that it can be used with people with neurological damage and for people who are over or underweight.

The Trust’s lead physiotherapist Simon Plummer said, "The Trust now hopes to work with Dr Bertino to scope areas for more in depth research and then to do some of that research jointly, or in association with him and his team in Switzerland. It would also be interesting to see the engineering development associated with this trampoline and the support harness, as it is being done to very high technical standards."

Another visit is planned for either November or January next year to catch up on the progress since Dr Bertino visited and establish how the Trust will work with him to evaluate the equipment.

Swiss doctor visits NHS Trust to learn about rebound therapy

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