Content for Families, Carers and Professionals

Spider/Universal Cage Therapy

What is Spider Therapy?evie1

Spider Therapy is an intense physiotherapy treatment approach which was originally developed in Poland. It involves suspending the child in the centre of a universal exercise unit (UEU) by using a number of elastic bungee cords of different elasticity. These bungee cords are attached to specific points on a special belt around the child’s waist, forming a unique spider web around the child, which provides them with essential support. This unique suspension allows the child to move independently while controlling their movements with greater precision and ease, as well as strengthening parts of the child’s body which are affected by CDKL5. Therefore, the spider will help to promote independence with security.

How will this help children with CDKL5?

Main physical impairments experienced by children with CDKL5:

  • Motor planning difficulties (apraxia)
  • Motor co-ordination difficulties (ataxia)
  • Hypotonia (decreased muscle tone)
  • Hypertonia (increased muscle tone)
  • Dystonia (fluctuating levels of muscle tone)
  • Muscle contractures causing reduced range of motion
  • Poor postural alignment (potentially influenced by scoliosis)
  • Reduced body awareness (proprioception)

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Spider Therapy will enable the child’s therapist to:

  • Implement a variety of recommended exercises in any chosen position;

  • Develop and practice a variety of activities of daily living in a safe environment

  • Isolate, stimulate and strengthen specific parts of the child’s body and/or selected muscle groups that need rehabilitation in a controlled manner

  • Reduce the level of the child’s pathological movements

  • Improve the child’s stability, balance and co-ordination

  • Improve the child’s body alignment and their awareness of their body parts (proprioception) in different functional  positions and movements

  • Improve and develop voluntary movements

  • Improve the performance of the child’s vestibular system

  • Improve the child’s spatial awareness

  • To teach children with visual impairments how to move and orientate themselves in space (gravitational orientation) 

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In the UK many there a number of families that are currently using this type of therapy with their children with excellent results. The pictures are of little Evie she is living with CDKL5. The therapy centre which is shown is based Essex and for further information please visit www.kidsphysio2u.co.uk

There is also another centre called the footsteps centre which is based in Dorchester-on-Thames, near Oxford in the UK.  The therapy offered at Footsteps is slightly different in that the children does not wear a suit, but the child is supported more fully by a large number of bungee cords.  For more information please visit www.footstepscentre.com 

Personal Story

Amber had her first session at Footsteps in 2012 at the time she was using her Rifton Pacer, was still harnessed in it. Within a month, after the therapy, she was no longer harnessed and would push the Pacer to mobilise around school. Within another month, she was no longer using the Pacer, and was walking holding a helpers hand. She had another block session in September 2012.  Where we are today, May 2013, Amber is now taking independent steps.  She can walk about 100 yards on her own. Not only has her mobility improved with this therapy, but her awareness of the world around her; her vision as she has to look where she is walking to; her ability to make choices - if she wants to go to her bedroom or have a walk, she will just get up and go! Life has changed so much in the time since her first session, we never thought we would get to where she is today, it certainly is making life a lot easier and the hard work has certainly paid off.