Innovative arm support that augments existing movement to grab healthcare professionals’ attention at 2019 OT Show
Bambach UK and Fortuna Mobility, which are both part of the Fortuna Group, sell the Armon Zero Gravity Dynamic Arm Support to clients in the UK. The dynamic arm support is an assistive technology product, with a unique mechanism that compensates for the weight of the user’s arm, making it feel weightless. They will be showcasing the product at the 2019 OT Show.
Speaking to AT Today, Seb Bavetta, Director of Fortuna Mobility, said: “When you rest your arm on an ordinary armrest, it’s zero gravity, meaning there’s no weight in the arm as the weight is taken by the armrest. However, ordinary armrests are static and don’t move with the individual.
“What the Armon does – once you get the calibration right – is take all the weight from your arm and, as you move your arm around, the weight stays at zero. Your arm floats effectively.
“You can set it so if you have a heavier arm, you set the arm support with more uplift, and if you have a lighter arm, you set it with less uplift. If you have it at the minimum uplift and just let your arm relax, then you’ll sink down into the support. If you have it at the maximum uplift – unless your arm is incredibly heavy – then the arm support will rise up and you’ll have to push it down. You set it to the person’s arm so that the uplift exactly balances the weight.”
The arm support is bespoke to meet the exact needs of each individual and there are four different versions available:
- Edero (mechanical) (ideal for professional users)
- Pura (mechanical) (steplessly adjustable)
- Elemento (Electrically driven)
- Ayura (Electrically driven) (tilt mechanism and brakes)
When discussing the Armon support, it became clear that the product is adaptable and versatile, and can meet a huge range of needs, from minor injuries to severe disabilities.
For instance, the support can help people with repetitive strain injuries, rotator cuff injuries, arthritis, fatigue, postural problems, multiple sclerosis, stroke, spinal cord injuries, amongst many other conditions and challenges.
“If somebody doesn’t have to lift the weight of their arm because of the Armon, it could make the difference between being able to lift a cup to their mouth or not being able to,” continued Seb. “Recently, I went to see an artist who had developed a neurological condition and she was finding it difficult to paint properly as her fine control wasn’t there. So, we demonstrated the Armon to see how it would help. It had an immediate effect on her control from taking out the weight. If your arm is out at full stretch with something heavy at the end of it, over a short period of time your arm will start to shake. But if you’ve taken the weight out, there’s minimal extra effort and that gave her more control over the paintbrush.”
As well as aiding various conditions, the Armon support can also be used in the workplace by professionals who have their arms stretched for long periods of time. By taking out the weight of their arm through the support, it reduces fatigue, improves comfort and increases control. For example, the product has been used by dentists and surgeons who have to carry out long procedures.
One of the key points with the Armon is that it augments movement that the user already has; it is not designed to replace the function of a human arm. Considering this point – as well as the fact that the device is adaptable and can be modified to meet different requirements – the Armon can also aid rehabilitation.
Elaine Ferguson, Mobility Services Manager at Fortuna Mobility, told AT Today: “As you can adjust the weight in the Armon, those in rehabilitation scenarios can actually build up strength through the support.
“The product can be used in conjunction with a healthcare professional during rehabilitation. For instance, during a rehabilitation session, the weight of the arm support could be greatly increased to see how the client manages with the increased difficulty, and then it can be set back to normal. This all helps the individual build strength.”
In addition, there are a wide range of places the arm support can be fixed to, such as powerchairs, manual wheelchairs, ordinary chairs, tables and desks.
“We like to solve problems wherever we can as imaginatively as possible,” Elaine added. “Generally, we can find any solution in terms of where this gets mounted and how.
“Where it fits to is very important and that’s where just selling the product isn’t enough. That’s why we offer a complete solution, including installation. We’re very happy to do home assessments in order to get the bigger picture of people’s lives and where they need the product to fit in.”
Armon is also impressing the healthcare professionals. “I was recently at a meeting with a group of OTs and they were very enthusiastic about it.” said Elaine. “Especially in terms of people being able to feed themselves. The impact of that in terms of their care package is very significant.
“There’s a powered model which, again, the OTs were interested in, especially in terms of spinal injury and ongoing lifestyle after a trauma in order to free people up and enable them to be more independent. And because Armon is assistive, healthcare professionals and OTs are interested because we’re promoting and augmenting function and mobility.
“It’s really important that we marry up the improvements in technology with what we can offer people, and I think OTs respond to that very well. This particular product can improve people’s lives.”
Seb said: “And, of course, it helps with the person’s own dignity not to need someone to feed them or to take a cup to their mouth. It makes sense economically but also from a dignity point of view.”
To showcase the Armon Zero Gravity Dynamic Arm Support to healthcare professionals and occupational therapists, Fortuna Mobility and Bambach will be demonstrating it at The OT Show 2019 on stand E01. Seb and Elaine are encouraging attendees to view the Armon support and learn more about it.
The OT Show runs on the 27th-28th November 2019 at the NEC in Birmingham.