Many of you may already know me, or at least recognize my name, but I wanted to quickly introduce myself! My name is Kendell and I am one of the physical therapists at Crawl Walk Jump Run and I am happy to share that I will be writing our blog posts for a while now!
For this week’s blog, I wanted to focus on the RT600.
I’m sure many of you have heard about the RT600 while spending time in the clinic, so what is it? Well, the RT600 is a piece of equipment we have been offering our physical therapy patient’s since January of 2015. We use the RT600 to facilitate dynamic stepping with electrical stimulation applied to the major muscles needed for walking or upright posture.
Therapists are able to facilitate muscles using up to 12 channels of electrical stimulation, with the option of an additional 4 channel external unit. The number of electrical stimulation units used is individualized per patient, depending on their diagnosis and specific needs.
Breaking down electrical stimulation
What is great about the use of electrical stimulation is that it allows the patient to use their own muscles during ambulation (walking). During this time, the machine assists the muscles to fire at the appropriate times to facilitate more normal movement patterns. While patients are completing the program on the RT600, their brain and muscles are retrained to communicate effectively during movement. Communication between the brain and muscles is necessary for effective and efficient movement patterns.
Unfortunately, this communication is typically impaired due to a neurological injury, making it extremely important to implement during time spent on the RT600 estim machine. The overall goal is to improve these lines of communication through muscle activation and movement patterning.
To understand how electrical stimulation affects muscles, scientists need to know how the cells in your muscle respond to electrical signals. First, they must determine what happens at an electrically sensitive structure inside each cell called the neuromuscular junction; this is where communications between nerve and muscle are transmitted.
In one study, researchers found that individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) who used electrical stimulation during treadmill training over a period of weeks gained greater strength and muscle mass than those who walked without electrical stimulation. And for these people with SCI, greater strength led to improved mobility.
The intricacies of an Electrical Stimulation therapy session
Technicians and therapists at Crawl Walk Jump Run are also able to incorporate functional tasks, fine and gross motor activities or encourage reciprocal arm swing while patients are stepping on the RT600. (Did we mention that you can also watch Netflix while on the RT600?! Who said therapy couldn’t be fun?)
We take pride in creating intense therapy programs designed to work the entire body, and this philosophy remains consistent with the RT600, electrical stimulation programs as well. The RT600 is appropriate for a wide range of ages, functional levels and diagnoses. In fact, Crawl Walk Jump Run is the only facility in Michigan that offers the RT600 for pediatric and adult use! So, please do not hesitate to bring up your interest in the RT600 to your therapist and we would be happy to get the ball rolling for you!
So let’s look at the details of our program briefly.
Programs on the RT600 range from 6-8 weeks, 2-3 times per week with sessions typically lasting 1.5 hours to allow for set-up, tear-down and up to 60 minutes of patterned walking.
I understand that the previous sentence holds A LOT of information, but don’t worry, our patients and families collaborate closely with our front office and awesome RT600 technicians to determine the best schedule for each individual’s program.
Get started on the RT600 Electrical Stimulation Machine!
We have had incredible success using the RT600, as it has provided our therapists with yet another opportunity to observe undeniable progress in multiple areas of function including:
- bone density
- weight gain/weight loss
- postural stability
- sit to stand transfers
- standing endurance
- walking endurance
- movement quality
Assessments are conducted prior to and after completion of the RT600 stepping program, allowing us to make comparisons and track changes throughout the course of the program. We love to see the positive changes it makes in our patient’s lives and hope to see this happen in many more!
Since bringing the RT600, electrical stimulation machine, into Crawl Walk Jump Run, we have been able to offer a unique addition to traditional therapy as well as private pay fitness program options. This is a great way for patients to continue progressing their strength and endurance following the completion of an episode of physical therapy.
If you are interested in the RT600 for yourself, your child or a family member, please ask your therapist for more information at your next visit to Crawl Walk Jump Run!
Thanks for reading!
Physical Therapist at Crawl Walk Jump Run
Patient testimonies (left anonymous)
“Once the stimulation gets into the muscles, they are very flexible. Where a lot of things you do, we do with our mind, [with the FES] you can do things you didn’t think you could do. I could see improvement right from the first day [on the RT600]. I trust the machine…and the technicians and therapists do a great job…so it’s been really good for us.”
“I had a stroke when I was 8 years old. Because of the stroke, I have weakness on the left side of my body. Because of the weakness, I walk differently and I have a ‘bad’ gait pattern. When I walk I use my hips more than the correct muscles in my leg. So, I recently started using the RT600 and the RT600 took therapy and electric-stim to a whole new level for me. While I’m on the RT600, the therapist puts electric-stim on all of the muscles in my leg. This electrical stimulation is supposed to help train my brain to work on its own.
So, a normal functioning muscle has a signal. It sends signals to the brain and the brain sends signals to the muscle on its own. But for someone with paralysis or a brain injury, they don’t have that signal being sent on their own. So, you have to retrain your brain and the muscle. So with the RT600, the e-stim helps train my brain to do it on its own. When I get off of the RT600, I feel that it is easier to walk and my gait just flows better. I believe that’s because of that signal being sent while I’m on there for the hour, on the RT.”
“My daughter recently completed a 6 week program on the RT600 and we have been very happy with the results. Her strength has really increased. Her ability to stand and walk has also gotten stronger too. She gained a lot of weight; her legs gained muscle mass. It just helped her in all of her activities. We’ve been very happy with the RT and we’re hoping to get her back on the program again…and I highly recommend [the RT600] to other patients.”
“Initially, [my son] was working on strength and endurance and after a couple of months of building up his endurance, he was ready to get into more walking and training for walking. And the RT600 was the tool that was suggested. He was on the RT600 for a 6 week cycle. During that time he gained 6lbs of muscle mass. He would have an hour solid of walking and partially weight bearing…working on repetitive motion, he certainly improved his overall walking and balance and muscle tone.”