A pioneering piece of equipment for neurological patients is fast becoming a recognised tool in helping to retrain the brain after a stroke, injury or illness. Staff journalist Holly Harrison speaks to founder Andrew Marshall to find out more about how this simple tool is taking the healthcare sector by storm. People living with limited mobility as a result of a stroke, injury or illness have been thrown a lifeline as a clever, new product wins industry praise.
The RydaMablet is a simple but effective tool that is winning high praise from healthcare professionals, who hail it as a real opportunity to speed up the recovery process for neurological patients.
RydaMablet’s story began around 13 years ago when founder Andrew Marshall decided to do something to help his father, who had just suffered a stroke.
He said: “I made a very crude version of the RydaMablet and it helped him gain a bit more range of movement and dexterity.
“It wasn’t until I saw something a couple of years ago about a lady who had a skiing accident that I thought that I really had to do something about the product commercially.”
Inspired by the thought of helping other people recover from neurological trauma, Andrew set about making prototypes and getting feedback from local healthcare professionals in the area.
He said: ”The beauty of it is how simple it is. I’ve shown it to occupational therapists and physiotherapists who love the simplicity of it. They like the fact it doesn’t have to be plugged in, and you don’t need extensive training to use it.”
The RydaMablet is a brightly coloured board - called a mablet - with a deep groove embedded into it.
This mablet comes with a range of handles (called rydas), which the user has to hold and push through the grooves.
These handles come in a variety of different shapes and sizes to encourage the use of different muscles in the arm and hand.
There are eight different levels designed to take users right through the recovery process; from severe impairments where users have a fixing attached to their hand to boost confidence if they cannot easily grip onto things, to mild impairments where users pinch a small post with their first finger and thumb.
Presented in the bright, bold colours of red, yellow and blue, the RydaMablet is an engaging tool that is more like a puzzle than a piece of medical equipment.
Andrew said: “When I started to develop it I thought that so many medical products are in dull grey colours or brown, so right from the start I was making it in bright colours and people seem to love that side of it.
“It’s improving muscle strength and dexterity but it’s enjoyable to use at the same time. There’s a combination of it being fun but also a serious treatment tool.”
However, Andrew was determined not to make his product look infantile and was set on creating an attractive, effective tool for adults.
He explained: “A lot of equipment does come from toy shops so they are not designed for adults. You only have to ask yourself how demeaning that is.”
After working with community health groups across the local area, the RydaMablet is beginning to attract attention from people across the UK and even the world, as customers head online to purchase the product for themselves.
However, not one to rest on his laurels, Andrew is keen to keep developing the concept and is even playing with the idea of incorporating electronics into the product, by using lights or buzzers.
In addition, Andrew is keen to keep close contact with his customers/neurological patients to find out how they find the product and to see if they use it in different ways.
He said: “Some people are putting them on walls, which is a great idea because it works different muscles.
“I always want to have feedback from people. I’m always looking to develop, to improve and progress. It’s great to hear people’s ideas and things they are doing with the product.”
Eager to please, Andrew is also able to create bespoke designs to suit the needs of individuals and is also willing to rent products out, but advises people to invest properly.
He explained: “You have to use it three, four or five times a week if not every day. You have to have that determination to succeed.
“You have to have something to focus on. Think of something you could do but can’t any more. You can set yourself step-by-step targets to reach and make them achievable, but it should also be a challenge.
“I can offer a rental scheme but I think if you buy it you will think ‘I’ve spent money on this, I’m going to make it work.’”
Just like any form of exercise, users get out what they put in, and it will take determination and dedication, but the results can be truly transformative.
Andrew said: “I’m confident that if you use it three or four times a week if not each day and you will see an improvement. It improves muscle strength and movement - and it makes you think.”
For more information visit www.learnmovement.com