No-one here has time for downtime. This quickly becomes clear if you visit vib.innovation GmbH in Saxony-Anhalt. The team has set itself ambitious goals. “We want to become a leader in technology in the field of vibration-based sport and therapy devices with multiple inventions, patents and innovative products,” says Bernhard Rudolph. He is the managing director of one of the roughly 75 medical technology companies in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt which are at the forefront of the development and production of innovative medical technology products.
vib.innovation GmbH has already taken a first big step on the road to being a leader in technology: the company has developed a mobile therapy device, the first in the world, which is used in intensive care and in the early mobilisation of patients directly in their sickbeds. The operating principle is based on mechanical vibrations. “The aim of the ‘inostation’ is to prevent muscle atrophy in seriously ill patients,” says Bernhard Rudolph. He explains the medical background: “If a patient is lying in intensive care, processes which can lead to muscle atrophy start in the body after just a few days. But if the patient is in a coma and needs artificial respiration, then traditional manual therapy is very difficult owing to the severity of the illness. The challenge of developing a passive therapy device which can be used to help these patients emerged from this.”
The “inostation” is slid onto intensive care patients’ sickbeds and transmits vibrations to the body. The muscles automatically react by contracting. “This counteracts their atrophy,” says Bernhard Rudolph. Furthermore, it has been observed that the mechanical vibrations appear to have a positive effect on the clinical progress. There have been no complications or adverse events during the course of the 700 treatments performed on critically ill patients to date. “For the patients, the treatment increases the chance that they will later become able-bodied again, once they have overcome the illness.” Bernhard Rudolph hopes that the procedure will one day be as common for therapy in intensive care units as respiration is today.
Rudolph is not a doctor, but an engineer. For this reason, he works very closely with medical professionals and clinics in the research and development for medical technology devices. In order to test the effectiveness of therapy using mechanical vibrations, a study with 47 coma patients was performed, among others, in the neurosurgical department of a clinic in Duisburg. The Median Klinik in Magdeburg, which specialises in the rehabilitation of people with neurological disorders, is currently testing the “inostation” in practical use under clinical conditions.
The team from vib.innovation GmbH hopes that the device will also be received positively there. Because the list of effects of vibration training is long: improvements in movement and coordination, circulation, bone density and fascia structures, preservation of musculature, and alleviation of spasms. The vibrations also promise success in the treatment of lymphoedemas.
Of course, healthy people – or those who have comparatively small restrictions – can also benefit from some of these properties. That’s why the company, based in the city of Wernigerode in Saxony-Anhalt, has the “inoplate” vibration plate, which spans the bridge between therapy and fitness applications, in its portfolio. “It is approved in accordance with the Medical Devices Act and is designed for use in physiotherapy, in rehabilitation clinics, or even in fitness studios,” says Bernhard Rudolph. “For example, it can be used to treat weak connective tissue in order to prevent joint diseases and for building muscle.”
Because the “inoplate” is too cost-intensive for home use, the company also offers a vibration device which is suitable for daily use, which anyone can use at home. “Our ‘inoroll’ massage roll can relieve muscle tension and release tight fascia, alleviate back problems, strengthen the body, and exercise joints, tendons and the pelvic floor,” lists of Gudrun Rudolph, the managing director’s wife and head of marketing. She adds with a smile: “And there’s good news for body-conscious women too: anyone who regularly exercises with the roll can reduce the appearance of cellulite.” All products bear the “Made in Germany” label because the products are produced by the company at it's Wernigerode site.
The company’s location in Saxony-Anhalt is ideal for this. “We benefit from great transport links, and we sit right in the middle of Germany, so to speak. In two and a half hours, we can drive to Hamburg, Berlin or Dresden. It’s ideal,” says Bernhard Rudolph. He and his wife have roots in the region. “We like living here. The Harz Mountains are our retreat. We are able to develop wonderful new ideas here.” So we should be excited to see what we will hear from vib.innovations GmbH over the next few years. Or what we’ll feel. One thing is for sure: it doesn’t stand still, it vibrates.
Author: Dana Toschner