Many benefits of the bellicon® training

By Paul Kaye, course tutor and consultant at Rebound Therapy UK
Paul Kaye

“We had been looking for some time to find a mini trampoline that was suitable for disabled people to use as a complementary activity to their Rebound Therapy programme.

Most rebounders on the market have a bounce that is too hard for the clients we work with, but we heard about the bellicon® and agreed to trial it for a period of five months using people with a wide variety of disabilities. We found that the bellicon® with its elastic cables and slower, softer bounce is an ideal product for our purposes.

Rebound Therapy is the practice of using full sized trampolines to provide opportunities for movement, therapeutic exercise and recreation for a very wide range of disabilities; from profound and complex learning and physical disabilities through to multi sensory impairment and autism.

Rebound Therapy is an increasingly popular intervention for these people and is often provided in special needs schools and physiotherapy centres. However the problem has always been, because of time and staff constraints, that the student can never have as much time on a full sized trampoline as the therapist would like. This is where the bellicon® comes in; it is small enough to be used at home. The therapist can give the student’s parent or carer a programme to follow on the bellicon at home which will complement the Rebound Therapy programme being provided in the school or centre.

These are some of the benefits of Rebound Therapy which have been considerably enhanced when using the bellicon rebounder as a regular complementary activity:

  • facilitation of movement
  • promotion of balance
  • increase or decrease in muscle tone
  • relaxation
  • promotion of sensory integration
  • improvement of fitness levels and exercise tolerance
  • improvement in communication skills

The work is intrinsically motivating and returns high value in therapeutic terms for the time and the effort involved.


THE PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF THE BELLICON REBOUNDER

  1. Unique, three-fold effect on body organs, systems and muscles.
    weight increases and decreases to the point of weightlessness
    there is acceleration from stillness to varying speeds
    there is deceleration from varying speeds to stillness
  2. Storage of potential energy - as the trampoline bed is under tension it is a potential energy source
  3. Output of energy - this varies according to the energy put in; the bed stores the input energy unto output. As in Newton's 3rd Law of Motion 'for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction'. 
  4. Potential for lifting a body into space - as a result of item (2), the trampoline bed, when energised, has the potential for lifting a body into space. The amount of energy required will relate to the weight of the body to be lifted.
  5. Unstable surface - the surface, which is elasticated and under tension, is unstable and movement on it acts to energise the bed. Output from this movement causes the bed to offer an active base upon which movement occurs.
  6. Damping - this is the absorption of the energy of the bed by the body. It is achieved by taking up some of the energy of the bed through flexed hips and knees.


PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS

Cardio-respiratory

There is a high demand on muscles to deal with the increased gravity produced on deceleration and in the control of movement required when gravity is in effect reduced, as in acceleration, causing an increase in the respiratory rate and subsequently the heart rate. As a direct consequence there is an upturn in venous and lymphatic drainage. The constant muscle work required to maintain position and balance increases the demand for oxygen.

Muscle tone
In simplistic terms, trampolining generally causes an increase in postural muscle tone, simply to prevent falling over. In Rebound Therapy, the effect on muscle tone hypertonia or hypotonia is variable. Low amplitive bouncing in general causes a reducing effect on hypertonia by bombarding the muscle spindle in much the same way as shaking causes a decrease in muscle tone. High amplitude bouncing can cause an increase in tone by stimulating the stretch receptors. The two properties can be used therefore to increase or decrease tone where required. The effect of the rebound activity on muscle tone can easily be observed in people with spasticity, either hemiplegic or athetoid, or by effect on ataxia where tone can be seen to undergo change.

Postural mechanism
Stimulating by bombarding the sensory systems through joints, muscle and skin can improve the output to the important postural muscles.

Balance mechanism

In creating a dynamic movement situation, so challenging balance mechanisms, observable improvement can be achieved. This is particularly relevant when working with adults where a dynamic balance situation is difficult to create in lying, sitting or kneeling.

Kinaesthetic awareness
By the multiple stimulation of joints, pressure stretch receptors, skin, muscles etc., kinaesthetic awareness is improved, leading to improved body image and spatial awareness.


THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

On movement:

Movement can be facilitated at different stages of the bounce. The most active movement takes place at the top of the bounce where acceleration of the body equals the downthrust of gravity to allow a momentary "gravity-free" zone. A tiny body movement can produce a large effect with correctly applied bounce. Momentum and rhythm can be added to movement to help teach new movement skills and energise movement. Balance and equilibrium reactions can be achieved through stimulation of postural mechanisms; by creating a dynamic movement situation, protective and saving reactions can be developed. The anticipation of movement occurs because of the effects of timing, rhythm and momentum. An inhibiting or stimulating effect on muscle tone enables active movement to take place. By using good positioning and low amplitude bouncing, good relaxation is easily obtained.

On perception:
Body image, body part awareness and positional sense are enhanced through tactile and joint sensation. Increased perception of body image, spatial awareness combined with rhythm, and movement itself, greatly develop co-ordination. The experience of movement into space with the return to stability, while remaining in control, provides an enriched learning experience, for the motor-impaired person.

Communication:
Due to cardio-respiratory effects, vocalisation is increased - with exclamations and gasps. Eye contact and concentration are enhanced by the "focus effect".


SUMMARY:

1. It is fun
2. Gives confidence in movement
3. Is usually achievable (good target/goal setting)
4. Develops fitness
5. Gives general confidence and a feeling of well being”


Paul Kaye, course tutor and consultant at Rebound Therapy UK
Saplings, Felcourt Road
RH19 2LA Felcourt, W. Sussex
info@reboundtherapy.org
www.reboundtherapy.org

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