Introduction: "Spider" Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

A new therapy in Poland utilizes a device called the "Spider". The Norman Company, established in 1994 in Poland, provides therapy using the "Spider", which is comparable to the use of the Adeli Suit.

Currently the Company provides physical therapy treatment for children with cerebral palsy and other neuro-motor disorders in three clinics. Norman Lozinski is the inventor and the owner of the Polish patent on the "Spider", and the company has been certified by Polish Health Ministry.

The "Spider" consists of a number of elastic cords of different elasticity attached to certain points on the patient's body at one end and to the different points on the surrounding construction on the other one.

This unique suspension device enables the independent and controlled movement as well as strengthening of the affected parts of the body.

The equipment enables the practitioner to create a unique "Spider's" web prescribed individually for each patient. The flexible connectors allow changes to help the patient improve balance and posture as well as to develop voluntary movements with greater precision and ease of movement. The "Spider" promotes independence with security and sometimes motivates reluctant patients to participate in therapy.

The "Spider" enables one to:

The "Spider" can be combined with conventional physical therapy methods and can be successfully combined with most of rehabilitation and sport equipment. Practitioners argue that the "Spider" makes treatment more effective since it can substitute for the hands of two or three physical therapists and allows a more full use of the patient's strength and abilities.

Research has been carried out on the effectiveness of the "Spider" by The National Health Association in Warsaw in1996 and by the Integrated Early Center in Warsaw. Both studies showed efficacy.

Since 1997, rehabilitation sessions have been taking place in the Rehabilitation Center in the Polish town of Mielno-Uniescie, located on the Baltic Sea. The Clinic offers the 28-day-course of rehabilitation (six days of exercises in a week and one-day of rest). The patient is treated approximately 220 minutes a day, depending on the abilities of the patient. Individual therapy consists of massage, soft tissue and joint mobilization, stretching, strengthening, range of motion exercises, activities of daily living training, balance and coordination activities, gait training, and 60 to 120 minutes of exercises in the "Spider" equipment.

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The Establishment of Euro-Peds: The Adeli Suit, The "Spider" and the Euromed Clinic

Richard Koscielny, the Director of Euro-Peds, and Izabela Koscielny (Program Coordinator) visited the Norman Company in Poland, which is providing therapy using unique device called the "Spider" . They interviewed the owner, medical director, therapists, parents and patients. Richard and Izabela spent few days learning and observing therapy provided by the Norman Company clinics in Mielno and Koszalin.

In Koscielny's opinion therapy provided in Norman clinic is based on the same principles of therapy provided by Euro-Peds clinic, and similar to therapy provided by the Euromed Clinic in Poland, that the results achieved using the "Spider" are comparable to results using the Adeli Suit, and that there is usually no contraindication to participating in this therapy.

Therapy provided by Norman Company costs about half of the cost of the Euromed session. For a lot of parents therapy provided in Norman clinic can be a good alternative to Euromed's therapy.

As physical therapists Richard and Izabela Koscielny have decades of cumulative experience working with children, but when their daughter, Kaya, was born premature at 26 weeks and was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia CP, their implementation of traditional methods of therapy made few improvements to her condition.

The family left its home country of Poland and came to the United States to seek more progressive treatments, only to learn later about Euromed. After being on Euromed's waiting list for 8 months, the Koscielnys were able to take Kaya back to Poland for treatment, and on her third week in the Adeli suit, she was able to stand independently for 5 to 6 seconds.

Soon hundreds of parents began contacting the Koscielnys requesting information about Euromed, and the couple agreed to become the official representatives for the Euromed clinic. Since doing so, they have helped 167 children receive treatment in Poland, but the cost of the treatment is still out of reach of many families.

Though Euromed does provide all the necessary documentation needed for third party payors, reimbursement is not guaranteed. So the Koscielnys approached North Oakland Medical Centers (NOMC) in Pontiac, Mich, and asked them to open a center inspired by Euromed.

Richard took care of the administrative end of starting the program while Izabela hired and trained the staff, and on October 4, 1999, the Euro-Peds clinic opened. The clinic's concept allows for follow-up care and therapy for those who have already had sessions with the Adeli suit in Poland. Izabela serves as the programcoordinator and Richard is the director; they also serve as spokespeople for the clinic.

"This is not a second Euromed, but is patterned after that model without the [Adeli] suit," Richard stresses. "It will help to maintain improvements that the children gain from Euromed."

"There is insufficient research data on the Adeli suit," explains Izabela, the only therapist with a certificate of training in the suit in the United States. "We cannot use it in the American clinic because the insurance companies would call it investigational and reject the payment. We had to adopt our Polish therapy to American standards for insurance purposes."

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Treatment Protocols at Euro-Peds

Euro-Peds provides individualized and goal-oriented treatment for each of its patients, and the clinic currently offers orthotic consultation and services, and consultations with a developmental pediatrician and other pediatric specialists.

In-state Euro-Peds patients undergo three 2-hour physical therapy sessions per week with one or two therapists. Out-of-state patients undergo ten 4-hour treatment sessions for 2 weeks. As a result of the intensity of treatments, there are three teams of physical therapist seeing 14 children per day, and Euro-Peds is booked solid months in advance. Currently, Euro-Peds has 456 patients on its waiting list—109 from Michigan, 333 from other states, and 14 from other countries. There are plans to offer occupational and speech therapy in the future, as well as expansion plans to meet the needs of more patients.

"Our future goals are to open satellite clinics in other states; to build a new pediatric clinic providing service for the patients, and education for parents and other health care professionals; and to conduct more research on the Adeli suit, "Spider", hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and other alternative therapies for children with CP," Richard says.

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Additional Links to Articles on "Spider" Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

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Written and overseen by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D.

Program Director, Continuum Center for Health and Healing,
Beth Israel Hospital / Albert Einstein School of Medicine

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