Advocacy for Physical Therapy Equipment Proves Successful in Rural Community

Infinity Rehab Lite Gait System

Meet Christina and Sheri

Christina Masterson, DOR and OT, and Sheri Zumstein, PT, are therapists with Infinity Rehab at Good Samaritan Silverwood Village, a rural Silver Valley community in Idaho. They routinely have residents with complex diagnoses and physical limitations that present numerous safety concerns regarding ambulation/transfer training. Additionally, the residents themselves were also expressing a strong interest in mobility training. The interest and need for better physical therapy equipment was evident.

Why did they need this equipment?

Sheri had seen a presentation on a partial weight bearing device at a presentation she attended recently. She knew this would benefit their residents. “I thought it would be useful in getting our short-term residents up and mobile again for a quicker return home,” she noted.

Often, therapists use assistive devices such as a walker or a cane to assist a patient in safe mobility to prevent falls. However, this makes it difficult to achieve a walking pattern where the patient is not leaning forward or compensating for a weaker side.

The physical therapy equipment Sheri discovered accomplishes improved posture and more effective balanced gait through the use of a harness that is then attached to a suspension system/supportive arms. The supportive arms offload different amounts of weight to different sides of the body (asymmetric support). This effectively gives more support where an individual needs it. For example, if a person is weaker on one side after suffering a stroke, the system will provide more support to the weaker side. If a person has weight-bearing restrictions, like from a hip surgery, we can help them stand without exceeding those restrictions.

It allows the individual to focus more on strengthening their lower body/core rather than compensating, and achieving goals of a normal, balanced, symmetrical walking cycle. This can effectively decrease an individual’s fall risk. It also allows therapists to focus on a person’s posture, balance, and walking without fear of the resident falling.

Grants help pay for system

Cost was the major limiting factor in acquiring the new physical therapy equipment. The business department at Silverwood Village approached Christina and Sheri in 2017 with a grant opportunity from the Idaho Elks Rehab of up to $10,000. Sheri sprung at this opportunity, and for the first time, started grant writing.

Christina followed up by applying for and completing other available grants from the Frank A. Morbeck Community Foundation and Hecla Charitable Foundation. They were approved for all grants, and as a therapy team received $17,000.

The community was extremely supportive as well in funding this project. Christina contacted all resident family members and put on a bake sale and raffle that raised over $1,000. With all the support, they were able to receive the new physical therapy equipment and were officially trained in its use by the end of August 2018.

Project proves to be fulfilling

“The most fulfilling part of this project has been how it has impacted our long-term residents,” states Christina. “It has given them a new hope and motivation for mobility training and regaining independence. Anything that promotes someone’s quality of life is fulfilling.”