The Evolution of GyroStim

The Inspiration
In 1997 GyroStim inventor Kevin Maher and his wife gave birth to a little girl. Unfortunately she was born three months premature, resulting in a diagnosis of severe spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. When she reached age 4, her parents were told that her very poor balance might benefit from including vestibular stimulation in her daily home therapy program. She was prescribed a regimen of hundreds of chair spins, log rolls, and somersaults every day. This additional therapy was back-breaking work and there was no comfortable, practical, or easy method to provide it. There had to be a better way.

Inspired by this problem, Kevin applied his 25 years of experience with robotics systems towards engineering a solution. He designed and built an easier, safer, and more efficient way to provide his daughter with vestibular stimulation, resulting in the first prototype of the GyroStim. Maher’s daughter, Mackenzie, made unexpected and rapid gains, not only in balance, but also in other gross and fine motor abilities, trunk control, energy level, speech, and overall abilities. It soon became apparent that the vestibular stimulation from his unique combination of pitch and yaw rotations had triggered a cascade of significant additional gains well beyond the goal of simply improving her balance.

The Launch
Kevin continued developing his unique rotating chair, and soon his work captured the attention and interest of therapists, doctors, and researchers. Their acknowledgment of the immense need for this innovative device and his desire to make it available to others who could benefit from it reinforced his decision for moving forward with development of the GyroStim and the launch of a new company, UltraThera Technologies.

Soon after the company was formed, the first GyroStim system sale was to the United States Air Force Academy. The second sale went to the Mayo Clinic Aerospace Medical Vestibular Laboratory, further validating the broader interest in his new technology, with additional sales soon to follow.

The Breakthrough
In January 2011, one of the NHL’s top athletes, Sidney Crosby, suffered two concussions within a 4-day period that forced him out of the game for most of that year. Many, including Crosby, feared that the concussions would force him out of the game permanently just as his career was at its peak.

In August 2011, still suffering from debilitating post-concussion symptoms, it was recommended to Crosby that he try the GyroStim. Soon after, he was back on the ice and cleared for full contact practice. In November 2011, after nearly 11 months of being sidelined due to the concussions, Sidney Crosby returned to the ice in one of the most spectacular comeback games in history. In 2012, he went on to sign a 12-year $104.4M contract extension with the Pittsburg Penguins, and GyroStim went on to become critically acclaimed for being the breakthrough that helped Crosby overcome his potential career-ending concussions.

The Paradigm Shift: From Passive to Interactive  
Through 2013, GyroStim was used successfully to provide "passive” vestibular stimulation--- meaning that the subject seated in the rotating chair received vestibular stimulation, but did not engage in other activity during rotation. 

Maher hypothesized that adding an interactive element during rotation would engage, exercise, and challenge multiple physical and cognitive systems (sensorimotor systems) simultaneously, resulting in improved function and improved human performance.

To explore this hypothesis, he developed an integrated laser targeting system to provide an interactive challenge during rotation. He also developed a series of motion profiles that could be used to incrementally advance the intensity of the interactive vestibular stimulation.  Together, these would allow interactive vestibular stimulation to be applied at a quantifiable and appropriate pace for each individual as their performance improved.

In 2014, Maher put his interactive vestibular stimulation system to the test during various training camps with NFL, NHL, professional boxing/MMA, and Olympic athletes. The hypothesis was supported, with nearly all athletes reporting significant improvements in the areas of balance and coordination, spatial and situational awareness, reaction time, hand-eye coordination, object tracking, reduced brain fog, improved sleep, better mood and even improved reading speed and comprehension. 

From there, Maher surmised that this same strategy of applying interactive vestibular stimulation would also be effective at low intensities to help people recover from injury, illness, and the degenerative effects of aging. He developed a new library of protocols, this time for providing a series of incrementally challenging low-level vestibular stimulation. His theory again is supported by the reports of clinicians and thousands of people from all walks of life who have benefitted from it.   

This method of combining vestibular stimulation simultaneously with sensorimotor exercises and utilizing a strategy of incremental advancement has transformed and greatly expanded applications for GyroStim on both ends of the spectrum from rehabilitation to performance enhancement.

GyroStim Today
From the very first prototype to the present day, the GyroStim evolution continues, fueled by our never-ending pursuit of improvement beyond the status quo.  

Today, GyroStim is in eight countries around the world, helping thousands of people from all walks of life. 

 

gyrostim inventor


Meet Mackenzie:
the inspiration for GyroStim

Mackenzie, born 3 months preterm, was diagnosed with severe spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, and was given a grim prognosis. Never accepting the prognosis, the Maher family vowed to do everything they could to improve this situation.

Mackenzie’s mom, and a list of dedicated volunteers, worked with Mackenzie and her intensive home therapy program long hours every day. But at age 4, Mackenzie had not yet developed any real sense of balance. Motivated by this problem, her father created the very first prototype of the GyroStim.

Fast forward to the present, Mackenzie can walk with canes and is now a fulltime student at a competitive and prestigious college preparing for a career in Neurosciences.

Thanks to Mackenzie, the GyroStim has arrived and is helping people from all walks of life enjoy a better quality of life.  

In the video above, Mackenzie shows her stuff on today's automated version of the GyroStim as she attacks one of the performance enhancement profiles rotating at 25 RPM--- a training intensity typically only elite level athletes reach after working their way up.