By TONY GRIFFIN – Squash Mad Correspondent
Please grab a coffee and read about some groundbreaking work being undertaken in the area of Physical Cognitive Integration, a therapeutic process born from a lifetime passion for squash . . .
As a Kiwi (although living in Spain) I was incredibly proud to see Paul Coll become the first male from New Zealand win the British Open at the weekend. Paul is a great fan of the ROXs training system, which involves a number of flashing units that can be spread across a court floor to improve awareness, speed and footwork. The app measures your times for each activity.
This week I am pleased to be reporting on how the ROXs are achieving results in a new area of activity where they are helping to improve the quality of life for people with mobility issues.
I haven’t shared any new information or new articles of my ongoing Gevolution work for some time now, but I am pleased to say that we now have more than 20 coaches working with the process and are registered with the Luxembourg Sports Ministry. The feedback is very positive.
Squash-playing physiotherapist Patricia Ontoria and I thought it appropriate that we first share the news of our more recent work with the Squash Mad family.
It all started with a chance meeting with the Moya family at the 2020 Spanish National Squash Championships.
I had not seen them in more than 20 years. It was their first visit to a squash tournament since Victor their son had a very serious motorbike accident that left him paralysed on his right side and with limited movement on his left side.
Fifteen years ago the specialist hospital told that they could do no more for him but his family continued to look for therapies or anything to help improve his situation. All too often they were left with the feeling that their desire to do everything possible for Victor had led them to be taken advantage of, often given the high hopes with each new therapy and then seeing the lack of change achieved.
I explained to them about my Gevolution work with various young people with different conditions and the changes achieved. I asked them if they would like to try applying the Gevolution concepts with the ROXs (sensory stimulation devices) to see if we could help Victor in some way, and stating clearly that I had no idea if it could be useful for him but with the security that no harm would be done.
We started and after three to four weeks we were seeing small but clear changes in the motor skills of his left hand (the hand he could use). Around this time we also went into lockdown so we started doing the sessions online with his sister (a former top Spanish junior squash player) controlling the exercises through the app and we have been doing weekly sessions ever since.
After a couple of months I shared some videos of our sessions with Patricia Ontoria, a squash player and physio who I was in contact with due my Gevolution work.
Fortunately, Patricia is trained in and specialises in neuro-rehabilitation. She confirmed that the changes we were seeing were not normal, especially considering that he had been stable without significant changes for more than 10 years.
Quickly Patricia joined me in the online sessions and started giving the Gevolution ideas a therapeutic structure. Encouraged by the results and with the support of Kilian Saekel (CEO at A-Champs and creator of the ROXs) we started working with two other people with different conditions who also quickly showed signs of change.
In September 2020 we started with a four-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who had been receiving treatment since she was 16 months old and was again stable without change in recent times. She has quickly showed improvements in her balance, fine motor skills and orientation space. After a couple of months her parents started with one or two sessions a week with the ROXs at home in addition to the session with Patricia and she has not stopped evolving.
Given the results we decided that we needed more documented cases to confirm the benefits of this process before we could comfortably share it publicly.
Around this time we came up with the title Physio Cognitive Integration (PCI) as the name for this process that was quickly becoming therapeutical.
At the beginning of 2021 Alba Millan (Physio) and Arantxa Ibañez (Physical Education teacher) joined our team and in March 2021 we started clinical trials in their respective centres.
Alba works in a public health special needs residential centre. She applied the process to a selected group of adult patients with severe physical and cognitive conditions with similarly surprising results.
Arantxa works in a special needs school that caters for youngsters up to 20 years with both physical and intellectual conditions. She did the trial with teenagers with different levels of cerebral palsy, autism, ADHD and Hidrocephalus.
The common denominator in both groups was that changes appeared in patients whose progress was considered stable or even stagnated and now many of them achieving movements or actions that had never been seen done or seen previously. This video exemplifies this….
Until now 18 year old Claudia (severe cerebral palsy and wheelchair-bound) had limited movement of just one finger on her right hand and has been able to open the clip on her wheelchair harness for the first time in her life…
At the beginning of June we were invited to present the results of the clinical trials to physios in the Cantabrian Health Department. Both Alba’s and Arantxa’s centres are planning to broaden their PCI work, increasing the number of patients and therapists involved.
We have four papers published in the recent fourth Health Science Congress (Spain) and are preparing a research study with a new centre, starting in September. These are some of the things we have cooking now. We continue to work with Victor weekly and he continues to evolve.
We are preparing training material, information and videos so that we can share PCI in the hope that it may be helpful and accessible for more patients and therapists.
In the end they are achieving similar levels of changes that we have been seeing on the squash court that come from the Gevolution core concepts.
These methods link Primary Movements with our Eyes with low repetitions (Differential Learning) in a context without Chaos/stress and this leads to evolution.
“But as in all things, the Magic is in the EXPERIENCE” (Kapil Gupta MD)
Pictures courtesy of Tony Griffin