Watch the video version here. Kim Spranger tells us her story as the first therapist to ever use the NewGait.
BENGA: Thank you everyone for joining. Today we had the opportunity to speak with Kim Spranger, one of our founding NewGait clinicians, and discoverer of the NewGait as a rehab device. Kim is a physical therapist in the UP of Michigan and today she is going to tell us her story as the first person to use the NewGait.
Kim Spranger was the first therapist to ever use the NewGait. Today, she is the Director of Culture at NewGait. Listen to her story about discovering the device and her experience using it for Spinal Cord Injury Rehab.
KIM: My name is Kim Spranger, and I’m a physical therapist. I’m a lymphedema specialist, so I have treated lymphedema patients for years, but otherwise, I have been working in outpatient orthopedics for about 14 years now.
KIM: It actually wasn’t a NewGait, when I saw the device, and I saw it, on Facebook, actually. My son pointed it out to me, as a unique training device for runners. Immediately I saw the potential application to physical therapy, so I obtained one and started to use it.
KIM: Well, if I think about the day I just had it in the clinic, I probably used it on 60-70% of the patients that I saw today. I use it for diagnosing, like, what really is problem with their gait? If I try it on them in a certain way does that change their gait? Which helps me know what muscles to train with them. So I use it in a diagnostic sort of way. I use it for biofeedback when I’m trying to teach them something about how they’re moving, but they’re not really hearing me, or they can’t take what I’m saying and then change what they’re doing. It’s great for manual cueing to make that happen. Sometimes people just need some postural stability or feedback, I’ve used it that way as well. Sometimes people are coming in with a neurological condition and they just have so much fatigue or heaviness to their limbs that the NewGait is just a fabulous way to kind of de-weight them. One of the fellows said today, “Wow, it’s just picking up my leg for me.” So I’m using it in all of those different ways throughout my day.
KIM: Well, once someone said to me that, as therapists, we are like carpenters, and we have tools in our tool belt. The more tools we have, then the more effectively we can do our job. So the NewGait has become, a special tool in my tool belt. Throughout my day, it’s not like, “oh, this is a certain diagnosis, so I should use the NewGait.” That is not how it works, it’s more like, this is what I see, or don’t see, in how they’re moving, that I now have a whole new set of tools to give them the feedback, and help them reach their goals.
I feel like the staff that works here are always looking for new and different approaches to what we do. And we talk about it frequently. The thing about this device is, it’s not like, you know, “here’s the directions, and you put it on this way and you always use it the same way.” It’s not like that at all. We’ll be playing around with it, and be like, “Hey, you know, look at this new thing I just did. Oh my gosh, that is so cool.” I heard Megan saying that today about someone, and I will think, “Wow, I should try that on patient X tomorrow, because I see the same thing with him that you’re seeing with this patient.” So it gives us reasons to collaborate and try new things together. Patients will pick up on that energy too. They want to be looked at as individuals and not just doing the same exercises everyday, but instead really modifying things to make their therapy the most effective, and the NewGait has done that for us.
KIM: Well, I believe that this group of people has been, literally hand picked for this moment and for this product. We did not go searching for them. They just came into our lives. And yet, we are all very much equally have the same kind of passion for life. We are the kind of people who just really want to make a difference. We’re a team who cares in a way that is unique for this day that we live in. As we’ve all worked together over the last three years or so, it’s been truly an experience for all of us. We don’t do this because we have to, we do this because we want to. There is something within me that is really fulfilled by working on this project and watching what it can do.
KIM: Well, that’s easy for me because when I first got it, I had never seen it before so it was like, you know, trying a new bike for the first time. No one had ever used it for therapy before. I had this patient that I really loved and really was rooting for, I had a special connection with her. And to be able to take this thing that was unheard of, put it on her, and go from walking with two canes, to walking without a cane and looking so much more confident, almost immediately, that’s kind of a highlight day for therapists. I would say the second one is when we took it down to a spinal cord Institute in Detroit to see these young men who are so hopeful of regaining function and mobility. We were able to put the NewGait on them and have them be wowed, over and over agin. I love it when people say, “Wow!” I walked out of that building and said, “This has been a very good day.”
KIM: This device will become like several other devices that I’ve seen over my years in therapy where, initially, it looks novel, and people go, “Hmm, I wonder what that does.” I see that people are going to start to understand what it can do for their clinic and how cost effective it is. I think it will become as common as any other popular rehab tool.