There is a new weapon in the arsenal of physiotherapists at Kinetics in Whangaparaoa, with the recent arrival of a shockwave therapy machine.
Kinetics owner, physiotherapist David Cooper, bought the machine (nicknamed R2-D2) for the practice after using one at Millenium Institute for 18 months. He was impressed by the results it can achieve for patients, including Breakers basketballers and NZ athletics teams he worked with.
He says shockwave therapy has been particularly successful in dealing with stubborn problems including tennis elbow, jumper’s knee, plantar fasciitis (heel spur syndrome) and frozen shoulder.
Shockwave is an adaptation of a system originally used by surgeons, at much higher intensity, to blow kidney stones apart.
The unit used in physiotherapy is a compressor with computerized settings to adjust the pressure. Air is forced from the compressor into an applicator, sending a metal projectile within the hand piece back and forwards; this produces a pressure wave. The nozzle of the gun-like applicator is placed onto the affected part, sending a pulse into the area. David says while it can be “reasonably uncomfortable” for patients, it is an invaluable tool for improving chronic conditions.
A case study that David wrote up this year showed how a 26-year-old builder was able to get back to work in just six weeks after shockwave treatment for frozen shoulder – a problem that can take up to two years to resolve.
David says that as far as he knows, the $20,000 machine is the only one on the Coast – he understands that around five clinics in Auckland have one.