TheraSuit Method & SuitTherapy


TheraSuit serves as an exoskeletal support for clients with neuromuscular disorders. Clients wear it while undergoing an intensive exercise program conducted by a specially trained physical therapist. This significantly accelerates progress as it:

  • Retrains the central nervous system
  • Provides external stabilization
  • Normalizes muscle tone
  • Aligns the body to as close to normal as possible
  • Provides tactile stimulation
  • Influences the vestibular system
  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Decreases uncontrolled movements in ataxia and athetosis
  • Improves body and spatial awareness
  • Supports weak muscles
  • Provides resistance to strong muscles to further increase strength.
  • Promotes development of fine and gross motor skills
  • Improves bone density
  • Helps improve hip alignment through vertical loading over the hip joint

Patients who benefit most include those with neurological and motor disorders such as:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Developmental Delays
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Post Stroke (CVA)
  • Ataxia
  • Spasticity
  • Athetosis
  • Hypotonia
  • Neuromuscular and Orthopedic Conditions

Moreover, patients who received Botox procedure; post-SDR (Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy) and pre/ post-orthopedic surgical intervention such as Osteotomy, Tendon lengthening, and Spinal Fusion can benefit from the program.

The TheraSuit Method is an intensive physical therapy/exercise program that utilizes the TheraSuit and the Universal Exercise Unit (UEU). The UEU provides the stage where the exercises are performed following the principles of Intensive Therapy and Strength Training while the TheraSuit serves as a catalyst as it speeds up functional progress. It is already established that children undergoing intensive therapy with the use of the TheraSuit progressed faster in a shorter period of time.At present, the TheraSuit Method is gaining popularity in the US as a standard method of treatment for neurological and sensory disorders.

Main Goals
  • Combat effects of deconditioning and imobilization
  • Increase active range of motion
  • Improve strength and endurance
  • Improve functional skills of children towards independence through control of newly strengthened muscle groups
  • Normalize muscle tone

History of the Therasuit

  • Precursor was the “Penguin Suit”, which was used by cosmonauts to counter the effects of a gravity-free environment in space.
  • Astronauts who did not use the suits began to display postural insecurities similar to children with cerebral palsy.
  • In 1997, the suit was used on American children
  • In 2002, the Therasuit was designed and registered with the FDA by Izabela and Richard Koscielny.

How does it work?

Various sensory inputs are achieved through the system of elastic rubber bands. The elastic bands align the patient’s body as close to normal as possible, which restores posture and proper function of postural muscles. This then allows the patient to learn (or re-learn) proper patterns of movement. Deep proprioception is attained from joints, ligaments and muscles as the patient’s body is loaded with very specific and unique pressure from the postural alignment. The TheraSuit also influences the vestibular system and provides tactile stimulation all over the body. These sensory inputs help restore nervous system function in premature and neurologically impaired babies. These also help in addressing sensory integration problems.

Specific and precise placement of the elastic bands can also help normalize tone during postural changes. This is why children with ataxia or athetosis benefit from TheraSuit the most when they work for longer duration. They achieve a more relaxed and upright posture with properly aligned upper and lower extremities when the elastic bands are placed in such a way that the entire body moves back over one’s heels and into a more vertical position. This shifts the center of gravity back between the feet, which result to very noticeable changes in muscle tone.

The TheraSuit’s uniqueness comes from the fact that it provides dynamic correction. It allows the error to occur as it simultaneously facilitates the correct position or movement. Normal individuals learn through their own experience. On the other hand, the TheraSuit serves only as a guide and assists an individual to move. It does not perform movement for the individual.

Initial use of the suit serves only as support to the weak muscles but as the patient progresses, the elastic bands are adjusted to provide resistance, challenging the individual to further gain strength.

The loading effects of elastic bands produces mechanical force that loads on the skeletal system. This helps in improving bone density.

The TheraSuit helps patients diagnosed with:

  • Ataxia
  • Athetosis Cerebral Palsy
  • Autism
  • Developmental delays
  • Hypotonia (low muscle tone)
  • Post stroke (CVA)
  • Spasticity (increased muscle tone)
  • Sensory integration problems and
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
SUMMARY of Benefits
  • Aligns the body to as close to normal as possible
  • Corrects gait pattern
  • Decreases uncontrolled movements in ataxia and athetosis
  • Helps improve hip alignment through vertical loading over the hip joint
  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Improves body and spatial awareness
  • Improves bone density
  • Influences the vestibular system
  • Normalizes muscle tone
  • Promotes development of fine and gross motor skills
  • Provides dynamic correction
  • Provides external stabilization
  • Provides resistance to strong muscles to further increase strengthening
  • Provides tactile stimulation
  • Re-trains central nervous system
  • Supports weak muscles

Universal Exercise Unit

The Universal Exercise Unit (UEU) is approximately a 400lbs metal construction that contains several exercise equipment, cables, pulleys/suspensions and weights that gear towards strengthening of weak muscles. It is the greatest European contribution to the field of rehabilitation. It was developed by a Polish Orthopedic Surgeon, Professor Dega over sixty years ago. It follows the concept that a patient will be able to initiate movement of a weakened body part (a limb) when the weight of the extremity is eliminated. This can only be done when the exercised extremity is suspended, canceling the effects of gravitational forces on the limb. The UEU isolates muscle movement and allows the CNS and the child to move with more ease and more efficiently.

UEU Applications:

  • Burns
  • Neurological disorders (cerebral vascular accidents, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, spinal cord injuries, Parkinsons disease)
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatric (developmental delays, autism)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sensory-Motor integration
  • Sport injuries
  • Vestibular rehabilitation

SUMMARY of Benefits:

  • Allows measurement of progress
  • Dramatic strength improvements
  • Enhances balance and coordination
  • Increases range of motion
  • Promotes developmental milestones
  • Promotes motor learning and planning
  • Provides a variety of sensory integration techniques
  • Safe and easy to use