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Rebound therapy – the role of the trampoline in rehabilitation

We have all heard of the benefits of physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and occupational therapy for children with disabilities, including brain injuries.  More and more we are seeing how other forms of therapy are playing a greater role in rehabilitation and exercise.  I have recently learned more about an exciting form of therapy known as Rebound Therapy.  As a solicitor in the Child Brain Injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp, I am always interested to learn more about new therapies which may assist our clients (children with acquired brain injury) in their recovery.

What is rebound therapy and how does it work?

The use of trampolines in therapy is an idea that was established by Eddy Anderson in 1969.  Eddy was a physiotherapist and remedial gymnast.  He used his experience to work with children with special needs by developing exercise techniques using the trampoline.  Rebound Therapy, is the official UK body, worldwide federation and consultancy for rebound therapy.

Rebound therapy is sometimes known as trampoline therapy as it uses the bounce and movement of a trampoline.  You may be wondering how rebound therapy is any different to children jumping on a trampoline at home, these therapy sessions have a much greater benefit to a child than just enjoyment.  It is a therapeutic form of exercise that provides movement and rehabilitation for people with physical or learning difficulties.  It is becoming a popular physiological therapy activity for children who suffer with physical difficulties, such as increased or reduced muscle tone (hypertonia and hypotonia) as well as those with learning disabilities.

The therapists use the properties of the trampoline, for example the speed of a bounce can help to promote movement or the therapist can also use slow rhythmic bounces to create a calm, relaxing effect, especially for children with high muscle tone.  Part of the appeal of rebound therapy is that each session can be tailored to the child’s needs.

The springs of the trampoline provide an energy source, which when bounced on, allows children with physical disabilities to experience ‘weightlessness’.  This provides a rare opportunity for children with severe disabilities to move without restriction.

The benefits of rebound therapy

Rebound therapy is not only beneficial for physical function.  It is also helpful for children with learning disabilities, sensory needs or development disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Therapists can incorporate games within their sessions so that children can develop their participation/teamwork skills, communication and sensory skills.

Rebound therapy, when coupled with physiotherapy, is thought to be a hugely successful rehabilitation technique for children with physical disabilities.

The benefits of rebound therapy are said to include:

  • Improves flexibility and coordination
  • Promotes core stability and head control
  • Helps increase spatial and body awareness
  • Increases confidence with movement
  • Improves communication and concentration skills
  • Develops the child’s independence
  • Increases balance, stability and posture through movement
  • Helps with muscle tone and strengthens the limbs
  • Promotes sensory integration
  • Provides a fun form of cardiovascular exercise
  • Alleviates tension and is a therapeutic form of exercise
  • Increases exercise tolerance and stamina

According to ReboundTherapy.org, it may also stimulate the digestive system, improve bowel function and clear toxins from the body.

Could rebound therapy be beneficial for our clients?

In the Child Brain Injury team, a number of our clients suffer with cerebral palsy, a condition affecting their movement and coordination, which can cause muscle weakness and stiffness.  There are many therapies that help manage the symptoms of the condition, however, it is exciting to consider how rebound therapy could complement the more commonly used forms of therapy such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and occupational therapy.

Also, some of our clients suffer with severe learning difficulties and sensory issues as a result of their brain injury.  Rebound therapy could be used to help with their concentration and focus and would provide an enjoyable method of improving team work, communication and sensory skills.

If it is found that rebound therapy has a positive therapeutic effect, children who are pursuing compensation claims, such as our clients, could potentially incorporate the cost into an ongoing rehabilitation package and seek to recover them in their claim.

Where can your child access rebound therapy?

Whilst the main tool for rebound therapy is the trampoline, it should be noted that all rebound therapists are required to undergo specialist training with ReboundTherapy.org.

Depending on the severity of your child’s needs, it is not always essential for the therapy to be delivered by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.  If a child has severe physical disabilities, a physiotherapist will carry out an assessment to determine whether rebound therapy is suitable or can be modified to be made suitable for your child.

Trampoline instructors and individuals can enrol in training courses to qualify and run rebound therapy sessions.

CPotential, based in London, offer one-to-one tailored sessions for children up to the age of 15, with physical and/or learning disabilities.  For further information or to book a session with one of the instructors at CPotential, click here.

A number of NHS Trusts also provide rebound therapy sessions with qualified instructors.  If you would like your child to be assessed for rebound therapy, you should ask their GP or treating team.  If you would like to obtain more information about rebound therapy, further information can be found at ReboundTherapy.org.

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