By Jodi L. Coates, PT, DPT, C/NDT
Here at HollyDELL School, our expert staff blends warm, nurturing care with state-of-the-art technology for the benefit of special needs students. The Rifton TRAM is one exciting example of adaptive equipment and technology used daily here by our physical therapists.
The Rifton TRAM is a versatile transfer and mobility device that is used at HollyDELL to help transfer students throughout the school and to work on gross motor skills and gait training in Physical Therapy. With the TRAM, students can perform standing transfers to change seats or get into other adaptive equipment such as a stander.
Students who are non-weight-bearing can be transferred in a comfortable, fully supported sitting position. We also perform this type of transfer utilizing the TRAM to assist students in going onto a pool chair-lift so they may enjoy participation in our Aquatic Therapy Program.
In our Physical Therapy program, we are now able to work on standing, weight shifting, taking steps and walking with some of our students who were previously unable to work on these skills due to physical limitations. The TRAM makes it much easier for our students to stand by supporting a portion of their weight. This enables them to work on weight shifting and stepping in all directions as well as higher level skills like walking and kicking. We can even help students work on balance using a balance board while supported in the TRAM.
Because the TRAM provides our students with the extra postural support they often require, we as therapists have our hands free to facilitate their movement, enabling them to participate in a variety of fun and challenging activities.
In the past, it required three physical therapists to position one of our taller students, Saniah who has cerebral palsy, in a gait trainer walker. The TRAM allows us to position her and facilitate steps independently, therefore allowing us to work on gait training on a regular basis. This has been a wonderful experience for Saniah because she loves to be up on her feet and walking. She literally laughs out loud and smiles from ear to ear while she is walking.
As physical therapists, we capitalize on the TRAM's ability to support our students, giving us the freedom to facilitate movement. Our HollyDELL students are able to participate in--and truly enjoy--a wide variety of activities by utilizing the Rifton TRAM.
About the author, Jodi L. Coates, PT, DPT, C/NDT
Dr. Coates graduated from the University of Delaware in 1992 with a Bachelor's degree in biology, Hahnemann University in 1994 with her Master's degree in physical therapy, and earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2011 from Neumann University. She has worked as a pediatric physical therapist for the past 22 years at HollyDELL School. She has also worked in early intervention, as well as the public school and outpatient pediatric settings. Her focus has been on working with infants, children and young adults with developmental disabilities to help them achieve their full potential. Dr. Coates has been an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Rutgers University since 2013. She is certified in Neurodevelopmental Treatment and is an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor. She lives in South Jersey with her husband and three children.