Today’s post comes from Ian Kornbluth, PT, MPT, Neurac Cert., and owner of the Neurac Institute for Physical Therapy in Princeton, New Jersey. Thanks, Ian!

Today's physical therapy clinic faces pressures from declining insurance reimbursements, increasing facility and staff expenses, and a fierce competitive landscape. But you can change the game by investing wisely in new equipment and corresponding treatment programs.

As an out-of-network provider, I offer a unique perspective when it comes to selecting equipment; I constantly search for creative ways to maximize use of my valuable treatment space and get better results for my patients while differentiating myself from the competition. For example, we embraced Pilates roughly five years before it went “mainstream” within the therapy realm. Now, we have the revolutionary Redcord system (see below to learn more) developed by physiotherapists in Norway.

So how can you modernize and maximize your clinic? Here are some space-saving devices that facilitate physical therapy, fitness and wellness, and sports performance training:

  1. Redcord: A suspension-based therapy system that leverages body weight as resistance and “activates” dormant muscles with high levels of neuromuscular stimulation. Redcord exercises require patients to use many muscles at the same time to keep the ropes steady. Meanwhile, slings and bungees stabilize weight and stress, enabling patients of all ages to exercise with proper form and without pain. It is this perfect combination of control and instability that allows patients to correct myofascial imbalances and restore functional stability for sports and daily activities. Clinics can suspend a Redcord system directly over a treatment table—no need for additional floor space.
  2. Pilates Machines: Employing Pilates in your clinic gives you a holistic approach to helping patients improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. The Pilates Reformer, one of the most popular Pilates exercise machines, uses a person’s body weight as well as springs for resistance. Core control, range of motion, breathing, and proper alignment are all key components of each exercise conducted on the machine. 
  3. Cable Column: This pulley system uses weight stacks as resistance and enables patients to exercise both the upper and lower body with various pulley attachments. I recommend a double pulley station with chin-up bar (so you can hang a home suspension device—space saver!).
  4. Total Gym: This exercise machine features an elevating sliding board and pulleys that employ body weight and gravity for a total body workout.
  5. Hi/Lo Treatment Table: This electric table provides an adjustable height surface. I recommend 2- or 3-section tables with a surrounding elevating bar that lets you adjust its height from any point around the table.

These five innovative exercise machines offer advantages to you and your patients:

  1. Complete full body workouts from one machine with a small foot print
  2. Engage the core and entire myofascial chains at the same time
  3. Move freely into multiple planes
  4. Use equipment with diverse patient base
  5. Provide manual therapy assistance by placing the body in supportive positions

While circuit machines may look impressive at first, their inefficient design restricts patients to just one or two muscle groups at a time, limits freedom of movement into fixed angles and ranges, and ineffectively challenges core and stabilizing muscles. After all, patients shouldn't still need to do "abs" after completing a circuit of exercises.

I prefer to use functional training equipment with a simple design and comprehensive approach. In addition to all the benefits I’ve detailed, the abovementioned systems are also relatively inexpensive with a quick return on investment and much savings in clinic space.

I also recommend related therapy products to add variety to your treatment or fitness programs. At my clinics, we have balance boards, balance discs, balance pads, BOSU, foam rollers, kettle bells, peanut stability balls, Pilates orbit and rings, resistance bands, stretching straps, Swiss balls, VIPR, and weighted balls.

You should carefully consider your business model, facility square footage, patient demographics, and professional needs when selecting equipment for your clinic. Making smart choices can bring in new referrals and revenue streams as well as add valuable treatment space to any practice.

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