“Don’t talk – walk!”
The gait lab at the DianaKlinik Bad Bevensen
A special kind of circuit training. Since September 2020, one of the largest rehabilitation clinics in northern Germany has been offering its patients innovative gait rehabilitation.
In 2018, when the DianaKlinik Bad Bevensen was considering how to evolve its physiotherapy offering, several aspects of the therapy were revised. Existing group sessions were adapted in terms of content and structured to build on each other. Overall, the group therapies were meaningful, but there was an incentive to optimise them even more.
According to current guidelines, a post-stroke patient should walk about 800 steps a day. This is not feasible with conventional therapy and above all in a group setting. And so, the purchase of a gait trainer was on the agenda. Trade fairs and symposia – including the 9th THERA-Trainer Symposium on the topic “Use of robotics in modern gait rehabilitation” – were used to gather information. Further training in “Neurophysiotherapy” reinforced the idea again, and so we decided on a completely new concept: the existing equipment was to be supplemented by the THERA-Trainer complete solution and presented arranged in a circle as a gait lab.
After some renovation, the largest group room at the DianaKlinik (170 m²) became the new gait lab of the physiotherapy department. At the same time, the occupational therapy arm lab was created in a room directly next door. Interdisciplinary cooperation is an important aspect for us, which is significantly facilitated by locating these facilities together.
As it happens, an unofficial slogan for the gait lab was also quickly found. Ever since a colleague motivated a non-German-speaking patient to concentrate more with the words “Don’t talk – walk!”, this rallying cry – which of course is meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek – has established itself as a kind of motto among the staff.
Here we may find, for example, the haemodynamically unstable patient whose body has to get used to standing vertically again. And then there is the walker who can apparently move around independently, but whose walking speed is not yet sufficient to participate in his or her normal everyday life.
The gait lab has one outstanding advantage: a wide range of patients can be treated here.
With the help of the “Functional Ambulation Categories” (FAC), the physiotherapists determine the support the patient needs in terms of walking ability at their first appointment. Based on this score and the findings, they can then choose the appropriate therapy in the gait lab.
But it is not only the patients who experience an advantage; this open form of therapy also offers exciting opportunities and professional interaction for the colleagues working in the gait lab.
Digital evaluations of the individual exercises show the patient’s progress and so can be used to guide further therapy. Both in the daily documentation and rehab team meetings, colleagues can describe the patient’s progress, but now also provide measurable evidence – a clear increase in quality!