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It’s in your hands

The Acute Injuries Rehabilitation and Evaluation Centre (AIREC) at Windsor Regional Hospital is a regional evaluation centre for WSIB and provides treatment and assessments for vehicle insurance companies. A relatively new process for treatment is the Saebo Arm Assessment and Treatment Program, developed by Saebo Functional Dynamic Orthosis System considered leaders in patient rehabilitation. The Saebo orthosis are custom fabricated, purely mechanical devices that assist in the rehabilitation of a dysfunctional hand and arm. Although the Saebo orthosis and therapy sessions are not covered by OHIP, many clients obtain funding through WSIB and/or from vehicle or private insurance.

“We actually became involved with Saebo when the idea was requested by one of our rehab clients who was thirty-two years post-stroke. He had researched the Saebo Arm Training Program and encouraged the hospital to investigate and hopefully become a trained provider of the service to clients like himself,” says Kris Gosselin, Occupational Therapist at Windsor Regional Hospital.

Saebo treatment is now available in AIREC, providing a specialized treatment approach, designed to maximize a client’s arm and hand function following a neurological injury such as a stroke.  It is the only program available that allows the client to incorporate their involved hand-functionality for grasp and release task-specific activities that require purposeful movements.  The Saebo’s Functional Dynamic Orthosis was created in the United States by licensed Occupational Therapists who have methodically worked to incorporate the latest neurological research into a practice evidence-based treatment program.

The revolutionary orthosis will allow clients to immediately use their hand and arm in therapy and at home which would otherwise be impossible due to the extent of their injury originally.  Now, the orthosis can stimulate new functional gains in the hand and throughout the entire arm.

The advantage of the Saebo orthosis is that it is beneficial for clients after several years of having a stroke or injury.  A physician or physiatrist referral is required and an assessment is completed to ensure the client meets the criteria for the program. If appropriate, the client is measured for a custom-fitted Saebo orthotic. Once the orthosis arrives, the client returns to the clinic for a two-hour fitting and training session. The client returns home with a log book and exercise program tailored to their needs and abilities.

Kris says, “The onus is on the person; they have to really be self-motivated and do the homework faithfully. Progress is very gradual and clients do make progress if they consistently do their exercises. It really is self-driven success.”
After a stroke or injury that affects hand and arm function, clients are frustrated by limited access to therapy. The therapy gives clients hope and their progress depends on how dedicated they are to doing the Saebo activities. Staff meet with their clients on a regular basis to assess progress, adjust their homework activities and, monitor in order to adjust the Seabo orthosis fit. The principal of Saebo is to re-train muscles by using highly repetitious exercises to re-establish muscle memory.

Saebo offers three types of hand and arm orthosis. The SaeboStretch uses a revoluntionary stretch technology that allows the fingers to briefly curl when their tone increases more than usual however, returns their hand to the desired resting position when their tone stabilizes. The SaeboFlex enables the user to grasp an object by voluntarily flexing their fingers and the spring mechanism assists in re-opening the hand to release the object. The SaeboReach not only incorporates the affected wrist and hand but also assists in straightening the elbow.

It should be noted that the Saebo orthosis is not a quick fix for clients however, with persistence, can improve function to hands and arms that have been of little or no use for years. Progress is very gradual however staff indicate they have seen great success. One client who had a total non-functional arm and hand  movement due to a stroke several years previously, can now pick up coins and paper.

The Acute Injuries Rehabilitation and Evaluation Centre at Windsor Regional Hospital can also provide independent medical examinations, therapeutic pool activity, physiotherapy and occupational therapy along with Saebo related treatment.

For more information about the Saebo Arm Assessment and Treatment Program, contact Kris Gosselin, Occupational Therapist at Windsor Regional Hospital at 519-257-5511 Ext 72401.


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