Ok so while I was at Paul Taylor’s gym in Melbourne last month I noticed an odd looking piece of kit on the floor. Odd looking is an understatement, in fact it looks rather like a um, um….well I’ll let you make your own mind up:
Anyway, Paul explained that this was one of the newest pieces of kit around and it was called the OOV (Out Of Vocabulary). After a brief demonstration he offered that he knew its creator well and could put me in touch. That is exactly what happened and we arranged a meeting at his offices in Bondi, Sydney a week later. The chap in question is Daniel Vladeta, an ex tennis pro, Osteopath, medical research engineer and lecturer. Dan was more than happy to have me over and seemed keen to present his invention. He is currently working with elite swimmers, tennis and golf pros, where the demands of the sports frequently lead to postural and muscular imbalances. The Australian Open golf tournament is about to start so I was particularly grateful for his time.
While Dan is currently presenting OOV courses all over Australia, and it’s becoming evermore popular in gyms and therapy practices, the product is yet to make it to the UK. Dan explained that he aims to start offering it here around spring-time next year.
So what does it do? Well the OOV is designed to help with addressing muscle imbalances and kinetic control, through dynamic neuromuscular facilitation (DNF) and fascial mobilisation. It can challenge the subject to produce slow, controlled muscular contraction while mobilising the fascia. How does it do this? Due to its shape you instantly have to balance while lying on it, increasing proprioceptive feedback. The shape and material have been meticulously designed to give support to the spine where needed while challenging the core musculature to maintain balance. Dan’s 10 years working in medical research has been key to helping him develop this product. He also works closely with Paul Hodges and Mark Comerford’s cohorts in Queensland Australia and Keele University UK respectively, helping to research the neuromusculoskeletal mechanisms at work and improve the range of kinetic control exercises available.
While exercises such as Pilates work on actively having to contract the core, and in particular the Transversus Abdominus (TrA), lying on the OOV automatically switches on these areas, through brain stem activation, allowing controlled, postural corrective work to be actively carried out and learnt at the motor cortex level. Tsao & Hodges (2005 & 2007) produced studies into patients with low back pain. Assessment had revealed deficits in activation of TrA in these subjects. Training of the TrA produced short and long-term improvements in feed-forward postural adjustments of the muscle, and improvements in self-reported pain and functional measures. Dan’s future plans included a project with David Butler looking at the use of the OOV in treating chronic pain states through realignment of cortical representation.
Dan’s approach is based on the theory that much of the musculoskeletal injuries we suffer day to day are attributed to altered kinetic control. He blames much of this on our being in sitting postures for large periods of time. This leads to an over-activation of the anterior myofascial sling, and associated under-activation of other areas leading to malalignment and injury at all levels of the body. Many of the exercises are designed to dissociate imbalances at the hip, Psoas, Iliacus and Gluteus Medius primarily, and around the thoracic spine allowing improved activation of Serratus Anterior, and improved shoulder mechanics. The aim is to adapt malalignments by taking subjects through a series of rehabilitation levels, whereby movements start as unconsciously and then consciously uncontrolled, and move on to be consciously and then unconsciously controlled; a popular model championed by educational research and the dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS) scholar Professor Pavel Kolar, who works primarily in the field of developmental kinesiology at Charles University, Prague.
Personally I found the OOV comfortable to work on and yet extremely challenging. It wasn’t long before I was working hard and feeling the shakes, as I’m sure my facial expressions below give away! This bit of kit provides something new, something to help address kinetic control issues in a manner that is engaging and challenging for the patient, which as musculoskeletal practitioners we are always looking to find.
This year Technique Physiotherapy & Sports Medicine will be one of, if not the first physiotherapy company in the UK offering OOV rehabilitation. We’ve arranged for the shipping of a few of the products and will start offering it to our clients once they arrive. We’ll also be keeping in touch with Dan and helping to arrange a lecture and course as soon as we can get him over, so watch this space!
Tsao H, Hodges P.W. Specific motor control training improves postural control of trunk muscles in people with recurrent low back pain. In: 14th Biennial conference of musculoskeletal physiotherapy, Brisbane, Australia; 2005
Tsao H, Hodges P.W. Persistence of improvements in postural strategies following motor control training in people with recurrent low back pain. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2008:18(4);559-567