ankle foot orthosis

Brace Yourselves! The Role of Orthotics in Standing Programs

Stander use is beneficial for promoting good posture and skeletal alignment as well as decreasing spasticity. Orthotic intervention is also frequently done with these same objectives in mind. Because even the best standers are not able to provide the full trunk and distal extremity support some individuals may require, orthotics are a valuable and often essential adjunct to supported standing programs. Bony alignment develops as a result of the forces placed upon the body, so achieving a desirable standing position is especially important for growing children and adolescents.

If you are beginning a standing program with a child and are unsure whether lower extremity orthotics are necessary, I recommend placing the child in the stander in his or her bare feet. If foot pronation or supination is significant and intrinsic muscle motion is minimal or absent, discussing a referral for consultation with an orthotist with the child’s physician is likely in order. In the case of progressive neurological disorders a child may initially maintain a desirable position, but should be re-checked on occasion. Read more


Memories of Rehab Past

My weekly yoga class meets in one of the biggest physical rehab places in Minnesota. It seems that everyone with a disability who even lives remotely close to it has gone there at least once in their life. That’s because they do it all – sports, rehab, classes, stuff for kids. You name it, they have it. And I was a live-in resident (I lived there for 8 months while learning independent living skills) back in 1998. Read more

Bantam Ian 17 (1)

Superhero with Spina Bifida

October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month, so we thought we would share the story of our little friend who has Spina Bifida. Meet “Incredible Ian” a little boy who we met recently at a photo shoot in White Bear Lake, MN. He has been standing since he was two, and he currently uses an EasyStand Bantam pediatric stander. Ian’s Physical Therapist has recommended that Ian stand each day, and Ian’s mom makes sure that happens by integrating it into the day’s typical activities. Ian stands while his mom is preparing a meal, or while playing with his favorite superhero action figures. Read more

Jenni cat

Standing with Cats

I have been using my stander 2 to 3 times a week. Every time is different with how many degrees I’m able to get up to. My goal every time is 90°. In the past couple months though, I haven’t been able to get up past 60 or 70°. And it usually takes me about half an hour to get there. My body just isn’t as tolerant as it used to be with standing. If I go too high, my blood pressure drops and I start to see black spots. Then I have to go back down immediately. Read more

Rhythmex Exercises

Just Beat It! Rhythmic Exercises

Weakness, range of motion limitations, and spasticity prevent many people from being able to participate in highly specialized therapeutic treatment protocols, but rhythmic exercise with auditory cues can be effective even with minimal motion. It requires no special fitness equipment – just a beat and some imagination.

A case report published in 2009 by the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies examined the use of rhythmic exercise in a young woman who had experienced a traumatic brain injury. After participation in rhythmic exercises with auditory cues five times per week for one year, she experienced improved mobility, decreased spasticity, and IQ increase from 78 to 94. She started the exercise program nine years after her initial injury and two years after she had been discharged from physical therapy.

The Rhythmex method incorporates multiple principles that can be remembered using the mnemonic ABCD&R. Read more

Bantam Ian 17 (1)

Superhero Play for Kids of All Abilities

My two boys love superheroes. In fact, the past three Halloween’s, my 5 and 2 1/2 year old have been Superman, Spiderman, another Spiderman, Batman and Robin. So there is no doubt why the “superhero” theme was fresh on my mind for our last marketing EasyStand Bantam “Standing Superhero” mailer. It was not until recently that I discovered on one of my new favorite parenting/teaching blogs, Teacher Tom, that there was a lot of talk in the parenting and teaching communities about superhero play. I was surprised to learn that some schools actually ban it. It seems to me that when managed, superhero play teaches about values, respect, empathy and safety – while being fun. Here are some ideas on how to make it a learning experience, as well as some adaptations for your children with special needs. Read more

easystand glider

The Mechanics & Benefits of Standing for Wheelchair Users

Recently, our staff was interviewed by the editors of Mobility Management magazine about the mechanics of standing for a person who uses a wheelchair. Here is some insight into standing, how it affects the body, and how standing for an able-bodied person compares to a person with a disability. You can also read the complete article, as published in Mobility Management magazine, “Up and At ‘Em, The Physics and Benefits of Standing Wheelchair Users”.  Read more


Wannabe Gym Rat

There are many things that are frustrating about living with a spinal cord injury. That states the obvious. But I tend to group those frustrations into two separate, yet overlapping categories. The first consists of having to deal with the all things, big and small, that the SCI lifestyle brings to the table on a daily basis. For example, that it requires a myriad of accommodations and adaptations to help me do things that I could once do mindlessly. In the second category are the frustrations associated with the litany of things that I want to do but am physically incapable of.

Near the top of the list in the second category for me are the frustrations that I perpetually feel trying to work out and stay in shape. When you are a quadriplegic you are typically either sitting in your wheelchair or lying in bed every 24 hour cycle, which by definition means that you live a highly sedentary lifestyle. I read somewhere that in order for an adult male to maintain a healthy lifestyle he needs to get at least thirty minutes of “full body” exercise every day. Even an active and high functioning quad like me, with good upper body and arm strength, is obviously incapable of that.

At the time of my diving accident, the summer before my senior year of high school, I was working out every day. At the least I was doing multiple sets of pushups, pull-ups, and ab crunches, but on average that also included about an hour of weight lifting. The primary reason was that I was determined to have a strong senior swim team season after my junior season was a disappointment, but shaping up to attract the ladies was a lesser motivation as well. Regardless, working out was a big part of my life. Read more

Zoe Standing

Standing Therapy for Milder Motor Delays

The benefits of long-term stander use for children who do not walk or walk minimally are well known based on extensive research. What about short term use of standing programs as an adjunct to therapy for children who are expected to walk, but are delayed by hypotonia or orthopedic issues?

As Zoe approached her first birthday, her mother became increasingly concerned about the progression of her gross motor development. She had never learned to crawl. Zoe’s style of scooting on her bottom while propelling herself with her right leg and left arm was efficient enough for her. While she would stand briefly, she would not pull herself from the floor to standing or attempt to take steps. External tibial torsion, or twisting of the lower leg bone to make Zoe’s feet turn outward, was present bilaterally. This was accompanied by significant flexibility of the ankles, which had allowed the tops of Zoe’s feet to touch her shins, likely because of in-utero positioning. As her social, language, and fine motor skills progressed age-appropriately, Zoe’s gross motor skills seemed to plateau. Read more