What is Rett Syndrome?
Rett Syndrome (RS) is a childhood neuro-developmental disorder affecting mainly females worldwide. It is usually diagnosed in infancy and is characterized by normal early development followed by hypotonia (low muscle tone) loss of purposeful use of the hands, distinctive hand movements, slowed brain and head growth, gait abnormalities, seizures, and mental retardation. Individuals with RS also often exhibit autistic-like behaviors in the early stages.
RS is now recognized as a panethnic condition and presents over an ever widening clinical phenotype. The estimated cumulative incidence of RS is thought to be 10 per 100,000 females by the age of 12 years.
The benefits of The Bambach for Rett Syndrome
- The hip joint is its position of maximal joint surface contact (closed pack position).
- Focus on pelvic control maintains an upright stable pelvis in its neutral position. In this position the spine, shoulder girdle, trunk, head and neck can function in their most stable position.
- Limbs are in a mid-range position which can minimise abnormal tone.
- A clear midline assists balance and symmetry.
- The individual sitting upright is in an active dynamic posture rather than a passive collapsed position.
- The Individual has greater control of sensory inputs which can trigger unwanted motor responses.
- Partial weight bearing can be encouraged through to standing from a half-sitting position.
- Dynamic sitting facilitates muscle activity which ensures the stimulation of normal and symmetrical growth of bone and soft tissue.
- Facilitation of independence in sitting and other motor activities.
- Trunk and head control are easier in the natural position so that functional activities, such as swallowing and speech are improved.
- Thoracic, abdominal and pelvic spaces are maximized resulting in improved lung and internal organ function and circulation.
- With the upper body stable and free to move in this upright posture, eye contact, communication and social interaction are a great deal easier.
- Self care activities, such as meals, washing and dressing, writing, computer work, hobbies and playing games, are also more easily performed.
Bambach understands the problems associated with Rett Syndrome
The course of RS, including the age of onset and the severity of symptoms, varies from child to child. However common problems are as follows:
- Decreased cardiovascular capacity
- Jerky ataxic gait
- Apraxia (loss of the ability to execute or carry out learned purposeful movements)
- Breathing dysfunction with hyperventilation
- Low muscle tone (Hypotonia)
- Retarded growth
The Bambach design and Rett Syndrome
The Bambach saddle seat was designed by an Australian Occupational Therapist as a result of her observation following years spent working with 'Riding for the Disabled'.
She found that disabled individuals suffering from neurological conditions such as RS often had great difficulty in maintaining a healthy posture and assumed a 'collapsed' or 'slouched' posture when seated in a conventional wheelchair and required considerable support (or strapping) to remain sitting.
These same individuals when sat on horseback were however capable of sitting independently and unsupported and showed remarkably improved functional abilities as a result of being put on a horse on a saddle.