A new Australian invention designed to help people with neuromuscular diseases exercise and rehabilitate is showing promising results.
The futuristic-looking “Reviver” uses gravity to help awaken the muscle and brain connections of the body.
“The Reviver is a device that tilts people and rotates them through the gravitational field, strengthening muscles with minimal conscious effort,” inventor Geoffrey Redmond told Community Care Review.
In people with neuromuscular degenerative conditions like Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease, it stimulates remaining reflex pathways, providing better muscle tone and balance, he said.
“At present we are getting remarkable anecdotal results for strength, balance, mobility and wellbeing,” Mr Redmond said.
Patients who have used the machines at a Sydney-based clinic have described it as a game changer.
“I have A-Typical Parkinson’s and I couldn’t use my legs, but I’ve got everything working now,” says 74-year-old Maria Hatch. “After a few sessions I was walking like I was 10 years ago.”
A version of the Reviver, called the Berenice Bed, can be used by people who are completely immobile and bed-ridden. A bed is connected to the machine to which an immobile patient can be secured.
Giuseppe (Joe) Monteleone has been using the Berenice Bed for about a year and says he is seeing excellent results.
“My symptoms are a lot less stiffness throughout my body and this just loosens me up with tingling in areas that I haven’t felt for some time,” Mr Monteleone, 37, says.
“My body has become a lot stronger in the past year. The Berenice Bed has definitely been a game-changer for me.”
Mr Redmond, who is an electrician by trade, was motivated to invent the machine when he noticed his mother’s physical ability and memory deteriorating in her 80s.
“At the age of 86 she deteriorated rapidly,” he said. “She’s normally very independent and has a very happy disposition but I noticed she was forgetting things and shuffling her legs. When I asked her what was wrong, she explained that it hurt when she moved her legs and hips.”
Mr Redmond then set about designing a machine that would provide an effortless way to tone, strengthen and heal without impact or the traditional stresses of exercise.
Now in her 90s, Mr Redmond says his mother has recovered “her functionality, her memory and her happy disposition”.
One of the machines has been sent to Melbourne for a Parkinson’s disease trial, which is being conducted by Monash University in conjunction with the Alfred Hospital.
Neuroscience researcher Dr Ben Sinclair and colleagues are recruiting 15 patients to undergo a three-month exercise regime on the machine.
The patient’s Parkinson’s symptoms will be assessed before and after the intervention, along with electronic measures of their gait and balance, and eye-tracking measures to assess the brains motor pathways.
The research program is being funded in part through a Commonwealth Government Innovation Connections grant, facilitated by the CSIRO.