Welcome to the Pathways Newsletter, the online newsletter of the First Step Therapy Centre in Newry Co. Down.

The Pathways Newsletter will keep you up to date with what is happen at the First Step Therapy Centre and also with what is happening in the world of health in general and neuro-rehabilitation in particular.

We have a special interest in the problems that affect children and adults with physical disabilities or neurological disorders and will bring you news of developments and issues as they arise.

We will also bring you news on the progress of patients who attend our Centre for treatment and other things that may be of interest to you.

If there is a particular topic that you would like discussed, then please

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In This Issue

- Information Evening at the First Step Therapy Centre

- First Step Therapy Staff Attend Rehabilitation Symposium

- Two Articles of Interest

Information Evening - Tue 31st March 2009

We are holding an information evening for parents and carers of those affected by neurological disorders such as Stroke, Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord Injury, Autism and other rare or undiagnosed disorders. You will here about the therapy programmes we are delivering and about the improvements our patients are making as a result of our therapy approach.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend. The information session will run from 7.30pm – 9.00pm.

Hope to see you on the night.

First Step Therapy Staff Attend Rehabilitation Symposium, at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dun Laoghaire

First Step Therapy Staff attended a rehabilitation symposium at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire on 25th March 2009, where some of the leading researchers in the field of neurorehabilitation were in attendance.

Tom Vanderhenst, Movement Scientist with the Hocoma Equipment Company from Switzerland, spoke about the various pieces of equipment that they supply and how they work including Armeo arm strengthening device, the Erigo Tilt table and the Lokomat machine.

Dr Andreas Meyer-Heim, Consultant in Paediatric Rehabilitation with the University Children’s Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland gave information on the Affoltern am Albis Children’s Centre where the first paediatric Lokomat machine was installed.

Professor Jane Burridge, Professor of Restorative Neuroscience at the University of Southampton spoke about the developments in neuroscience and the evidence base for the use of technology in neurorehabilitation.

The use of Functional Electrical Brain Stimulation to improve limb movement was presented by Jane, as was the idea that that fine motor skills and limb movement is improved through repetition and learning and that a trial and error feedback mechanism is central to successful motor relearning.

The take home message from Jane’s presentation was that contrary to popular belief, the human brain is in fact constantly evolving in response to sensory input and stimulation by a process called neuroplasticity.

By taking a whole body approach and using intensive repetitive activities (as shown by the First Step Therapy Methods), the brain can indeed improve in its functioning and the functional abilities of a person can be improved in cases where there exists potential for recovery. Constant stimulation through hands-on and incentivised play (eg reward charts or small treat) and varied (random) tasks helps ‘rewire’ the brain and improves functional abilities.

Neuro developmental abilities are acquired through sensorimotor inputs from the age of 0-2. Which is why the maximum sensory stimulation of children in this age group is vitally important, especially for those with an underlying neurological disorder.

We also heard of a charity founded by Joan Ryan of Cashel, Co. Tipperary called Coisceim Eile (translates into English as ‘Another Step’) which seeks to raise money to purchase a paediatric Lokomat for use in the First Step Paediatric Rehabilitation Centre in Patrickswell.

Click on the link below for more...

Coisceim Eile Charity

In other News...

Neuroscientists Identify Physiological Link Between Trial And Error And Learning

Further evidence of Professor Burridge’s work is found in this Science Daily article...


External Focus Improves Postural Stability In Patients With Parkinson's Disease

Patients with Parkinson disease may be able to improve their postural stability by directing their attention to the external effects of their movements rather than to the movements of their own body, according to a study published in the February 2009 issue of Physical Therapy, the scientific journal of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). (From Science Daily.Com)


If you would like more information on First Step Therapy Methods, then...

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