Category Archives: Medical Conditions

Guest Article by Arthritis Digest – New Osteoarthritis Treatment?



Image credit: followtheseinstructions

Transplanting a person’s own fat cells could reduce the symptoms and heal some of the damage of osteoarthritis, says research published in Cell Transplantation.

A total of 1,114 people (average age 62 years, 53% male) with osteoarthritis received self-donated fat cell transplants and were followed for an average of 17 months. Before treatment and at three, six and 12 months, assessments were made of pain, non-steroid analgesic usage, limping, extent of joint movement and stiffness. Hip and knee joints were the most common joints treated and some patients had more than one joint treated.

“No serious side effects, systemic infection or cancer was associated with SVF cell therapy,” report the researchers. “Most patients improved gradually three to 12 months after treatment.”

At least a 75% score improvement was noticed in 63% of the volunteers. And after 12 months, at least a 50% score improvement was seen in 91% of the volunteers. Painkiller use declined dramatically after treatment.

Obesity and a higher grade of osteoarthritis were associated with slower healing.

“Autologous stromal vascular fraction cell therapy for degenerative osteoarthritis is safe, cost effective and clinically effective, and can lead to an improved quality of life,” the researchers conclude. “However, there is no guarantee that this cell therapy can lead to a definite cure for degenerative osteoarthritis. Future patients receiving SVF will need longer follow-up to answer questions about durability and long term safety of SVF cell therapy.”

Source: Arthritis Digest magazine,

Guest Blog – Arthritis Digest Report Latest Findings on Knee Surgery


Recovery after knee surgery at home could be as effective as rehab in hospital. Arthritis Digest reports

People who have knee replacement surgery may be able to recover just as well at home as they would by staying in a rehabilitation facility, according to research from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Data from over 2,400 people enrolled in the HSS Knee Replacement Registry was analysed. After surgery, some recovered at home while others went to inpatient rehab. The research focused on patients with similar characteristics when comparing those who went home versus those who went to inpatient rehab after surgery. They were matched by age, health conditions and pre-operative function.


Home-based patients received visits from physiotherapists for three days a week for four to six weeks, while those treated at the facility received physiotherapy six days a week and often stayed for 10 to 14 days.

There were no difference in complication rates within six months of knee replacement, regardless of whether patients went home or to an inpatient rehab facility after leaving the hospital. Both groups had similar outcomes in terms of pain and function two years after surgery.

The research therefore suggests that home-based treatment may be a more cost-effective option in many cases.


“There’s a common belief that people should go to a rehab facility after joint replacement,” explains Dr Douglas Padgett, who led the research. “Our study found that patients can be safely discharged to their home following knee replacement, dispelling the notion that rehabilitation at an inpatient facility is essential for a successful recovery.”

A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK comments:

“In the UK, post-operative exercise programmes vary from hospital to hospital. It’s very important that people who have had knee replacement surgery have access to a rehabilitation and exercise programme, as it’s been proven to have a big beneficial effect on their recovery.

“We’re currently investigating whether intensive post-operative physiotherapy can improve poor satisfaction rates following knee replacement surgery. Currently, outpatient physiotherapy is not routine; often patients are given a home exercise package, but there isn’t usually any supervised physiotherapy provided on the NHS. If targeted intensive physiotherapy is shown to work and made deliverable on the NHS, it could help a lot of people.”

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Guest Blog – Joan McKechnie, (BSc Hons Audiology & Speech Pathology) of Hearing Direct

Ear examination

Hearing loss can affect people from all walks of life and at any age. The two most common causes of hearing loss are age related known as presbyacusis and noise induced hearing loss often abbreviated to NIHS. Together the two causes (as well as other less common causes) are believed to impair the lives of over 9 million UK residents (source: The RNID).

In both cases the contributing factor that leads to reduced hearing is linked to the inner ear tiny hair cells that either die or diminish in quality. The inner ear contains up to 20000 microscopic hair-like cells that are tasked with capturing waves in the air across a wide spectrum of frequencies. Once these waves are captured the information is passed to the brain via the hearing nerve, where the information is made into tangible language that we simply categorise as ‘sound’.

In the case of age related hearing loss, the demise of the inner ear hair cells is natural and is likely to affect individuals from as early as their 40s, though more common in the over 60s. It is simply one of the challenges that growing older brings with it and individuals cannot hold back this natural process. In the case of noise induced hearing loss, the picture is completely different. The cause is directly linked to work and lifestyle choices that individuals actively take, often while well aware of the risks.  It is widely believed that sounds exceeding 85dB can damage the inner ear hair cells and because these cannot regrow, the damage is permanent. For example, working a chain saw without hearing protection can expose the ear to 120db leading to possible inner ear hair damage (contributing factors: distance from the noise source and duration of exposure). While on the other hand, enjoying bird song will only expose the ear to 44dB well below the human pain threshold (70dB) and when damage may happen (85dB).

Treatment options for hearing loss to date revolve around managing the condition rather than curing it. In humans (as opposed to other species), the inner ear hair cells cannot regenerate so any treatment option aims to help manage the condition. However, it is worth noting that researchers are actively working on ways using stem cell technology to regenerate hair cells. Such treatment is many years away, though promising for the completely deaf. For now, the most widely effective treatment options rely on amplified devices to send sounds to the hair nerve. Common devices include digital hearing aids, hearing impaired telephones, personal alerting devices and recreational headphones for TV watching and music listening. Such aids are effective in the case of mild (defined as a loss of 20-39dB) to moderate (defined as a loss of 40-69dB) hearing loss. Some devices are even able to help in the case of severe hearing loss (defined as a loss of 70dB and beyond) but in the case of profound hearing loss individuals will have to use lip-reading and even sign language.

Hearing loss doesn’t just mean sounds aren’t loud enough. Hearing isn’t only about loudness or the number of decibels. Usually hearing loss has more to do with the frequency or pitch of the sound than its loudness. When typical age-related hearing loss occurs, it’s harder to hear higher frequencies, particularly in background noise situations.

If you suspect that your hearing is impaired, you should consult with your GP for an initial check or visit your local hearing centre for a hearing test. The test is pain free and can help determine long-term hearing loss causes from age related and noise induced reasons as well as less common reasons ranging from mild inner ear infection to prescribed medication.

Article by Joan McKechnie, BSc Hons Audiology & Speech Pathology. Joan works for hearing company Hearing Direct.

Guest Blog – Gemma Flanagan, Model & Disability Rights Campaigner

Guillian Barre Recovery

Gemma undergoing rehabilitation

Ever since I was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome in 2011, I have wanted to try and use the horrendous experience that I and my family and friends went through in a positive way. When I was first in recovery and trying to rebuild my life, I was quite negative and down on everything and didn’t really feel like I was going to be able to help myself, never mind anyone else. But through looking on the internet for further information on Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) I came across the work of a fabulous charity which is now known as gain


Gemma in Intensive Care

gain charity provide information, support and advice to individuals and their families who are affected by GBS and other associated autoimmune disorders and also help to provide awareness and further research into causes, treatments and preventions.

Through finding gain, I had not only found a way of helping myself; through having access to information etc, but also gave me a way to try and turn my experience back to a positive. I got in touch with them asking if there were any ways I could help or be of use to them. I was told about the helpline that is open 24/7 and is manned totally by volunteers, a lot of whom where GBS survivors like myself, or where relatives of people who had gone through something similar.

I loved this, as it wasn’t a case of doctors or medical professionals talking to you in a clinical way, this was people who could show true empathy with others about their situations. I had my first day on the helpline a few weeks later, and although I initially found it quite emotional, and difficult, it gave me a real sense of how much I had actually achieved and how much I had actually been through. Speaking to people over the phone who where at similar stages that I was at 6 months or so earlier was so surreal but I loved that I was able to offer some support and in some cases even advice on things that I had found useful or not when I was in hospital.


Gemma supporting ‘gain’

Another form of help offered by gain is organising hospital visits if requested. I in particularly love this part, as I know how isolating, overwhelming and traumatic it is being stuck inside your body, often in agony and unable to move or communicate effectively. In my case I felt like it was never going to end and thought I would always be at that low point.  But through myself and others going into to see sufferers, showing them that there is life after GBS. Symptoms usually plateau and then things usually do improve, even if in some cases, like mine, it means that things are slightly different to how they where before. I had so many lovely messages and thanks from people who I have personally been in contact with through this, I am so proud and happy that I can be even the tiniest bit of help to them

As GBS and other associated disorders can affect individuals so differently, there is such a wide range of severity that they can take. In my case my worst was being completely paralysed and in intensive care for weeks, unable to even swallow or even close my eye lids, but as crazy as it sounds I now know how lucky I actually was. Things can always be so much worse, as the disorders are things that an be fatal in some cases. And even though I have been left with disabilities and complications as a result of everything, I am thankful and grateful that I am still here and now I am able to help others. I have so much amazing support from the best family and friends, who also have done their bit by raising money for gain, by doing crazy activities, running marathons and holding events. Charities such as gain do such an amazing job, but could always do more, if there were more funds available to them.

Guest Blog by Gemma Flanagan, model and disability campaigner

Gemma Flanagan

Image by Paul Cummings Photography

In 2011, I was loving life in my dream job, travelling the world as Cabin Crew, when I became ill with Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) & Miller Fisher Syndrome. I was left at my worst, completely paralysed, in intensive care and then remained in hospital and an intensive rehabilitation unit for a total of 9 months. I had to learn to do all basic tasks again and try to rebuild my body. I am now left with muscle / nerve damage and weakness in my core, hips, legs and back as a result of my GBS. It has left me reliant on a wheelchair and crutches to get around and has given me a whole new outlook on myself and life. I could no longer carry on my dream job or carry on with things how I used to, I had to come to terms with a totally new me and body.

After leaving hospital, I discovered an organisation called Models of Diversity, who are a not for profit organisation that campaign to get a greater representation of diversity within fashion and media. I had done modelling in the past, and always enjoyed it, I never imagined that I would be now pursuing a career as a disabled model. I had to come to terms with a totally new body image of myself, which has been hard, and Models of Diversity helped me to realise that I was still me, just in a slightly different body, with some new accessories!! Still a glamorous girl, who loves everything fashionable and fabulous.

Gemma Flanagan4

Image – Models of Diversity

I now campaign alongside Models of Diversity, to try to make change come about within fashion and media, as currently there is no permanent representation of people with disabilities, like myself, in fashion or media. There is such a strong population in the UK living with disabilities, that it is crazy that we are not represented. We still want to wear the clothes and use the products so why are we not included on a regular basis within adverts, marketing and media?!

I am so passionate about individuals and models with disabilities being represented within society. Change will happen, once people realise that as disabled models we are more than capable of holding our own within the fashion world and that we can produce just as high quality, captivating and sale-able images than any other models!!!

HEWI Accessible Bathroom Solutions

HEWI support rail 800

HEWI – Comfort to Care Range

A market leader in accessible bathroom solutions, HEWI’s stylish bathroom range sets high standards. The underlying idea of HEWI’s Comfort to Care solutions is to create products for people of all ages, ensuring comfort, convenience and accessibility for all.

HEWI is a German company that design and manufacture their own high quality hardware, sanitary and accessibility products. HEWI’s Comfort to Care solutions fit beautifully within our stylish accessible bathroom range, where many of the products fulfill the criteria of universal design.

950 HEWI Washbasin

HEWI Washbasin

The HEWI Washbasin is designed to be wheelchair accessible, whilst having an elegant appeal. The washbasin has a shelf and round basin with integrated hand holds on the sides, giving you extra safety and stability. The hand holds can also be used as towel holders.

950_51_02090_1 450 with Backrest for BC

HEWI Hinged Seat With Backrest

With it’s minimal, contemporary design, the wall hung HEWI Hinged Shower Seat With Backrest will fit beautifully into any modern bathroom. The surface of the seat is slip resistant, the seat is curved for user comfort whilst the seat edges have been rounded for safety.

More information on our HEWI products and our accessible bathroom range can be found HERE




Horatio’s Garden, Salisbury Spinal Unit

Horatio's garden image 3

Horatio’s garden

Following a horse-riding accident almost twenty years ago, which left me Paraplegic, I was admitted to Salisbury Spinal Unit where I spent seven months undergoing my rehabilitation.

I cannot fault the care that I received there but obviously it was an extremely difficult and traumatic time in my life.  One of the hardest things about being in a hospital unit for a long period is the lack of privacy.  I felt that there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide when you just needed some time to yourself, unless you locked yourself into a bathroom, which I remember doing on many occasions.  My husband and I did find a small farm track at the back of the hospital that led to a farm gate overlooking a field, and we would sometimes escape there, but it was not somewhere that I would feel comfortable going to on my own, especially in the very heavy cumbersome Carters wheelchair that I was given for the duration of my stay.

At a recent visit to the spinal unit, I had the very great pleasure of visiting Horatio’s Garden, a beautiful and restorative garden that has been built within the grounds of the Spinal Unit for patients whilst they are resident at the hospital.  It is a place that offers a retreat and a sanctuary for patients and their family and friends, to get away from the institutional and sometimes claustrophobic environment of the wards. It is somewhere calm and beautiful to go when you need to find some personal space.

Horatio's garden image4

Horatio’s Garden was built to commemorate the life of Horatio Chapple, who was tragically killed by a polar bear on an expedition to the Arctic in 2011 at the age of just 17.  Horatio’s Father, David, was a spinal surgeon at Salisbury Hospital and Horatio regularly volunteered at the spinal unit during his school holidays.  Horatio and David came up with the idea for a garden and Horatio drew up a questionnaire to find out what the patients wanted.  After his death there was an outpouring of love, and goodwill and donations flooded in to create the garden – a fitting tribute and legacy to Horatio.

Horatio's Garden image2jpg

Horatio’s Garden was designed by Cleve West, winner of the Best in Show at Chelsea in 2011 and 2012. Cleve had experience of the spinal unit because his best friend had been a patient there.  Cleve used Horatio’s questionnaire as a starting point for designing the garden; he consulted the staff at the spinal unit and used a wheelchair and a hospital bed to get a patient’s perspective.  Horatio’s Garden was opened in September 2012.

Horatio's Garden image1

The Horatio’s Garden Charitable Trust is run by volunteers. The trust raises funds by selling beautifully considered gardening products and gifts through an on site shop. Local artists work with the trust to design and decorate the beautiful giftware items it sells, which helps to give the shop a unique identity. Regular events and activities for the patients take place within the garden. The trust hopes to eventually roll out Horatio’s Garden to other spinal units across the UK.

Horatio’s Garden is, quite simply, stunning.  It has a sense of peace and calm and offers a sanctuary for patients and their families.  A stone-wall in the shape of a spine runs across the middle of the garden, which has raised beds with tall scented willowy flowers, create quiet areas and privacy for the patients.  Birdsong throughout the garden lifts the spirit and the view out across the rolling hills calms the soul. I know that if I had had Horatio’s Garden available to me during my stay, it would have been my escape and my sanctuary.

You can find more information on Horatio’s Garden HERE.

Information on Horatio’s Garden giftware shop, for Christmas gift ideas and Christmas cards can be found HERE

By Katherine Pyne

Product News – Rollz Motion Rollator



We’re delighted with the response to the Rollz Motion Rollator, which seems to answer all your mobility questions in one simple device. This Dutch design rollator combines a lightweight wheelchair with a rollator mobility device. It’s got everything we look for in a mobility aid – design fit for function, simplicity, good aesthetics and mobility enhancing features that our customers love.

changelogo_Model 2013

So lets start with using the Rollz Motion as a walking aid. It’s got adjustable ergonomic hand grips, light steering and curb assistance, which means that small steps, curbs and door entries are easy to manoeuvre. Its stylish design and colour range (orange, ice-blue, purple and cool grey) makes a statement all by itself – a great mix of sophisticated and bold colours. It also looks solid and dependable and would give confidence to anyone using it, especially in a busy place.

The additional wheelchair package allows the Rollz Motion to convert quickly and easily into a lightweight wheelchair, complete with foot rests, and that same light responsive steering and easy manoeuvrability. It’s ideal for people who have limited mobility and need different options depending on the situation.

We sent a Rollz Motion to Blue Badge Style for reviewing and they had nothing but good to say about it. You can see their review video here.

Rollz Motion is available through our online store. Check out the Rollz Motion colour range, specifications and great design here.

Active Hands for Rehabilitation

Inimove Rehabilitation Device used with Active Hands Gripping Aid

Inimove device used with Active Hands Gripping Aid

Active Hands Gripping Aids are the perfect solution if you have limited grip or poor hand function, the gripping aids work beautifully with the Inimove rehabilitation device.  Active Hands enable you to hold the device; the glove straps around your hand in the gripped position giving you the ability to grip the device securely.

Inimove, is a rehabilitation device for stroke, brain injury and trauma and for ADHD. We recently trialled Inimove with the Queen Elizabeth Foundation, Brain Injury Centre, Banstead, Surrey. Carol Carr, Head of Physiotherapy at QEF, kindly wrote a testimonial for Inimove: Inimove Testimonial

Inimove Rehabilitation Training Devices

Inimove Rehabilitation Training Devices

Carol wrote a glowing testimonial for Inimove but felt that the grip for Inimove Complex and Complex Duo might not suit everyone.  She suggested that a moulded handle or a strap might help those with limited hand dexterity and we have found that Active Hands Gripping Aids are an ideal solution.  We have tested the Active Hands gloves with Inimove, which enable the user to strap the hand to the device, giving a stable hold and therefore allowing the user to gain the full benefit from the rehabilitation device.

Active Hands Gripping Aid

Active Hands Gripping Aid

Active hands, durable and versatile general purpose gripping aids, are also ideal for a wide range of tasks – at home, in the gym or out and about. Whether you’ve had a stroke, suffered a spinal injury or have any condition which reduces your hand function, Active Hands gripping aids could unlock any number of activities for you:

  • Working out in the gym (e.g. holding free weights, using a rowing machine)
  • Playing on the Nintendo Wii
  • DIY at home (using a saw or hammer)
  • Holding a pool or snooker cue
  • Rowing or Kayaking
  • Gardening
  • Holding a glass or bottle

You can find more information about Active Hands Gripping Aids HERE

Further information on Inimove training devices are available HERE










To Help Or Not To Help? – Offering Assistance To Someone Elderly or Disabled


My teenage daughter has grown up with a mother with a disability and is therefore always ready to help me when I am struggling or find a physical situation particularly challenging.  I guess she is tuned in to recognising when I need help.

I am always proud of her but particularly so recently.  We had parked outside our local farm shop and she had gone in to the shop on an errand to get a few provisions for me. She has been doing this since she was 5 years old and I always justified it by hoping that it taught her certain life skills such as responsibility,  listening to instructions and to watch that she gets the right change!

She took longer than usual and then an elderly lady who was stooped over and walking with the aid of two walking sticks, came out of the shop with her shopping, which was carried by a shop assistant.  When my daughter finally appeared, she got in the car, apologising for the delay and explained that she had done the shopping for the elderly lady. She had seen the lady trying to push a trolley whilst managing her walking sticks and she appeared to be struggling.  There were several adults in the shop and a two shop assistants but no-one had offered to assist her.  So my daughter put herself forward and offered her help, which was gladly taken.  The lady had been very grateful of her help and kept expressing her thanks by saying “Bless you”.  My daughter got huge satisfaction from being able to help her and to have made a difference to someone’s day.

This experience made us both wonder why people are hesitant to help someone that they can see may be struggling?  Perhaps people are apprehensive to offer to help in case, somehow, they offend the person? Perhaps they see it as an intrusion, or are awkward with disability or maybe people are just to busy and wrapped up in their own lives that they don’t even see it?

From my own perspective, I really appreciate it when someone offers to help me.  I am an independent wheelchair user and have to dismantle my wheelchair and then lift it across me onto the passenger seat when I want to go out in my car.  I do have a system for doing this, which can be tricky if people want to help but I am always very grateful for assistance when it comes to the final lift to get the frame across onto the other seat.

I have always found that people are really willing to help when I ask for assistance, which is usually when I am out shopping and I need help getting something from the top shelf.  Sometimes, I am offered help and may not really need it but accept it anyway as I don’t want to discourage them from offering help to someone who might really need it on another occasion.

So in future, if you see someone who might be in need of a little assistance, your offer of help may be appreciated. They can always decline but it is good to look out for others and you may get that feel-good feeling from knowing you have made a difference to someone else’s day.


By Katherine Pyne