Thumbs up for Exeter therapy suite that will help children with multiple disabilities walk

A new therapy suite that will help teach children with multiple disabilities to walk has been given the go ahead.

The plans for the new building at Vranch House School in Pinhoe Road were approved by Exeter City Council under delegated powers at the end of 2019.

The new single storey Therapy Suite building will enable children to learn the motions of walking through a specialised piece of equipment called an Innowalk Machine.

The Innowalk Machine is custom-made to make movement possible for individuals with severe disabilities and does not require the independent ability to stand or walk for it to be used.

Vranch House will have three machines in their new therapy suite, making them the only school in the country to provide such extensive and ground-breaking facility to support children’s needs.

The proposal came about following increasing demand from the Health Authority to provide an increased number of classes and to improve the care provided and overall well-being of pupils, a report with the application says.

Granting approval, the report of planning officers says: “The proposal is to provide the school with the required space for new, specialised equipment which is key to improving the care and wellbeing of pupils. There is a clear demand for this form of development.”

Therapy suite

Explaining the plans, a statement with the application said the school is continuing to develop new programmes for children’s care and to offer to interested schools support in infant and primary aged children.

It added: “As part of this progressive and innovative programme of teaching and care, the school has invested in the new technologically advanced Innowalk machine. Vranch, having made the commitment for three machines, will be the only school in the country to provide such extensive and ground-breaking facility to support children’s needs.

“The Innowalk machine is a motorized medical device for clinical practice which provides a custom adapted piece of equipment to enable assisted and guided repetitive movement in an up-right position – its uniqueness is that it does not require the independent ability to stand or walk.

“Children with physical and associated difficulties benefit greatly by the machine which provides effective assistance for movement and rehabilitation following operations and trauma which has such a positive effect on respiration, circulation and digestion – the movement patterns strengthen muscles, maintains joint flexibility and improves energy levels and mental well-being.

“The School currently has one machine, which overall is proving to have such a significant and positive response in their pupils, and the proposed new extension is to accommodate this and two new machines in a new Therapy Suite.

“The current space is not adequate in terms of requirement or suitability, so the proposal is to incorporate a new building as part of the development scheme which will provide a second floor of storage area accessed by a lift.

“The proposed building extensions will create a unique opportunity to establish an extended place of excellence and care in the School to the benefit of the children and all of the community.”

Vranch House is a charity and operates property and services in accordance with its registered purpose to provide clinical and educational services to children with physical and associated difficulties from the ages of 2 -18 years.

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