Why was GyroStim Invented?
The GyroStim has been many things for many people. It has provided effective, life-improving treatment for thousands of people from all walks of life, from senior citizens to toddlers, from people with profound brain injury to world-class Olympic and professional athletes.
It helped NHL's top athlete, Sidney Crosby, recover from his potentially career-ending concussions. It helped an ordinary high school student, Jackson Gannon, not just relearn to walk but to run again after his life-threatening TBI. It helps NFL's top running back, Christian McCaffrey, fine-tune his sensorimotor system and stay a step ahead of his opponents. It has helped thousands of senior citizens regain balance and confidence, and it has helped countless others overcome balance problems and improve their quality of life, but first and foremost...
GyroStim was invented for a little girl.
In 1997, GyroStim inventor Kevin Maher and his wife Rhonda, gave birth to a little girl, Mackenzie. Born three months premature, she was diagnosed with severe spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy and given a prognosis of a life impacted by severe disabilities.
Never wanting to accept the dire prognosis or give up on their daughter, the Mahers became fully invested in doing all they could by providing Mackenzie with an intensive daily at-home therapy program.
Still struggling with the enormous challenges of cerebral palsy at age 4-1/2, the Mahers were told that her very poor balance would benefit by adding vestibular stimulation to her therapy program. Mackenzie's therapists suggested including a regime of hundreds of chair spins, log rolls, and somersaults -- every day, and, in addition to her already very busy home-therapy program.
In theory, the vestibular therapy made sense: if you want to improve balance, you have to stimulate and challenge it. In practicality, it was impossible for Mackenzie to perform any of the exercises on her own, so the Mahers had to provide the therapy for her. Rhonda was able to provide the yaw stimulation by spinning Mackenzie in an office chair, but the other two axes of rotation, roll and pitch, were practically impossible. After giving it her all for a couple weeks, the therapy was discontinued because administering it manually proved to be just too difficult.
There had to be a better way.
Mackenzie age 3
Mackenzie age 6
Desperate and determined to find a practical means for providing safe vestibular therapy for his daughter, Kevin applied his 20 years of experience with robotics systems towards engineering a solution. He designed and built a safe, controllable, and efficient device for administering vestibular stimulation. Unknown to him at that time, he had just created the first prototype of the GyroStim.
From day one, the experience can best be described as "love at first tumble". Soon, Mackenzie began making unexpected gains, not only in balance, but also in gross and fine motor skills, trunk control, and other fundamental abilities, even her energy level and speech improved. It became apparent that the vestibular stimulation from the device had triggered a cascade of additional gains well beyond the intended purpose of balance improvement.
To be clear, Mackenzie's daily at-home therapy program included a wide range of physical and cognitive therapies, however, the addition of the stimulation from her father’s invention appears to have been the catalyst for unlocking the unexpected gains.
Inspired by Mackenzie's progress, Kevin continued improving the design of the unique rotating chair. Soon, Mackenzie's unprecedented gains and the capabilities of the rotating device caught the attention of Mackenzie's therapists and doctors. Their affirmation reinforced Kevin's decision to take a leap of faith and move forward with the launch of a new company, UltraThera Technologies and its new product, the GyroStim.
Soon after the company was formed, the United States Air Force Academy was introduced to the technology and purchased the first GyroStim. The second system was purchased by the Mayo Clinic Aerospace Medical Vestibular Research Laboratory, and many additional sales for clinical and research applications would soon follow.
First GyroStim installation
United States Air Force Academy
Since then, GyroStim technology and methodology have progressed along an evolutionary path driven by a passion to pursue advancements in clinical applications, human performance, and quality of life.
Today, GyroStim has FDA-clearance and is designated by the FDA as a Breakthrough Medical Device. Systems are located in the US and 8 other countries around the world in health clinics, sports training centers, research labs, military facilities, and universities.
UltraThera headquarters is located at the foot of Pikes Peak in downtown Colorado Springs, CO, with research, development, and manufacturing located in Golden, CO.
Mackenzie, the inspiration for GyroStim, refuses to be labeled with a diagnosis, or limited by a prognosis. She has completed her Master’s Degree in Psychological Science from the University of Denver, and is pursuing her PhD in Applied Developmental Science at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO.
She is tenacious, courageous, spirited, and yet humble and compassionate. She is faithful to God and is dedicated to pursuing a life of scientific research. She is passionate about applying her personal experiences of growing up and living with cerebral palsy to discovering new and improved interventions that will one day improve the quality of life for others with disabilities.