New rehabilitation equipment helps patients cook, climb and “walk on the moon”

Thanks to the support of our brilliant donors, fundraisers and those that remember the Stars Appeal in their Wills, we’ve been able to fund brand new equipment and facilities which are improving the physical and mental health of patients being treated at the hospital’s Wessex Rehabilitation Centre.

£105,000 of Stars Appeal funding has enabled the Centre to add a therapy kitchen, a bouldering wall and an anti-gravity treadmill as well as enhancements to the environment in which patients are cared for. The Centre provides courses of intensive rehabilitation to people recovering from serious injuries, for example after a road traffic accident, major surgery and those suffering from chronic pain, such as back or neck pain.  Programmes of specialised rehabilitation activities led by physiotherapists and occupational therapists, focus on improving patients’ strength, movement and confidence and often help patients to regain use of their arms, legs, hands and feet.

The new anti-gravity treadmill is the only one available in an NHS Rehab Centre in South West England. Patients are zipped into the treadmill which inflates around them, lifts them, and supports their body weight. At the highest setting it will remove 80% of a person’s body weight which is the equivalent of walking on the moon. It’s recently given a patient who suffered substantial injuries following a road traffic accident the opportunity to walk pain-free again far earlier than he otherwise would have done.

The new bouldering wall is the first in an NHS Rehabilitation Centre. Using the holds, set at variable heights and angles, patients can develop their grip and balance using their hands and feet, or traverse the whole wall without leaving the floor.  Routes range from easy to difficult depending on individual patients’ needs to ensure that everybody can complete the challenge and experience a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

The new therapy kitchen enables patients to re-familiarise themselves with the everyday tasks that their injury or illness may have prevented them from doing. From making tea or toast, to baking cakes or cooking pizza, these activities double as excellent exercises for hands and arms, and allow patients to spend time practising standing while absorbed in their cooking. For one patient, who hadn’t been back in a kitchen since a severe hand injury, baking scones was also a way to regain her confidence. For others, cooking can be a route into new hobbies and social clubs, which are an important part of mental rehabilitation.

Christopher Wain and Frances Wain OBE, whose generous donation funded the bouldering wall, said, “The Rehab team do a fantastic job, and we could see the important part a bouldering wall would play in restoring patients’ self-confidence. Moving sideways instead of climbing is much more practical if the patient is recovering from, say, an upper limb or hand injury, or has been left physically weakened by a prolonged period in intensive care. Now that the installation is complete, we hope the wall will help support recovery for many patients.”

Andy Matthews, Manager of the Wessex Rehabilitation Centre, said, “What has happened to patients to lead them here is life-changing. We help to change their lives for the better. These innovations would never have happened without Stars Appeal donors. They will make a huge difference to how we help patients in the future. I’d like to thank everyone who supports our brilliant Hospital charity.”

Hamish Cameron, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist, said, “Thousands of patients will benefit from this new equipment, which boosts their mood and their confidence as well as their physical wellbeing. The improvements in the facilities that we are able to offer patients allows us to address a wide range of patients’ goals and offer a truly tailored approach to their rehabilitation. The Stars Appeal donors have made a real difference to the outcomes of patients attending the centre. We would all like to offer our thanks to all of those who support the Stars Appeal.”

This is just one of many projects we are funding this year. You can read about everything we’re fundraising for this year here.

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