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Institute for Special Systemic Therapy

Highly Professional Expertise Focused on our Patients

The company philosophy of ISST is to supply patients with comprehensive, customized therapies and adapting the therapeutical possibilities through stringent quality standards to achieve the best possible treatment result: More quality of life for the patient! Patients and therapists are partners in personalized therapy.

Establishment of ISST

The Institute for Special Systemic Therapy (ISST) – International Center for Rehabilitation was founded by Dr. Klaus and Sabine Berndsen in Unna, Germany in 1984. Since that time, they have accumulated expertise, which allows them to competently advise, diagnosis, treat and handle patients fairly. The ISST defines its purpose as a competent provider of therapies to promote and rehabilitate the health of its patients. Our institute concentrates its rehabilitation services in the areas of language, speech, motion, cognition, nerve function, pain, hearing deficits, vertigo and sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea.

The Founders of the ISST Unna

The founders of the ISST Unna, Dr. Klaus-J. Berndsen und Sabine Berndsen

Since ISST’s beginnings, the institute has been involved in intensive concerted research with universities hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and international specialists to continually develop new efficacious treatment methods and assistive technologies to aid ill and andicapped individuals. Today ISST represents an innovative team of therapists, who have a competent and modern scientific understanding of diagnosis, therapy and special individual forms of rehabilitation.

New research ideas are often realized through practical work, which Dr. Klaus and Sabine Berndsen experience with their patients. The development of new therapy methods and assistive technologies emerge primarily through patient contact. In many cases, their developments have emerged from the critical analyses of current theories and treatment methods which required much needed revisions. Some of their methods and devices have been issued patents. Many of their developments are used currently by physicians and therapists worldwide.

Creativity and Personal Experience as Stimulation for New Developments

Philip BerndsenAt the beginning of every new development, there is always the necessity moskitoto provide specific aids for a special patient. This happened in 1991 when son of Dr. Klaus and Sabine Berndsen was born with cerebral palsy (CP). As afflicted parents, the Berndsens wanted to do everything possible to limit the extent of the handicap. Over the years, they visited physicians and therapists in Germany and abroad, including trips that took them for weeks at a time to the Ukraine, USA, South America, Hungary, Poland and as far as China. Unfortunately, only slight improvements were seen in their son’s condition and their wish that he would be able to learn to walk did not materilize over the years.

Because both parents possessed a comprehensive therapeutic understanding and could complement this experience through the variety of international expert findings, they began to develop their own improved methods and equipment, which they applied to their patients and their own son. In fact many who were afflicted, including their son, were able to gradually improve their movements and even learn to stand and walk. All assistive techniques and equipment are continually refined and have been developed into a highly individualized treatment methods. At ISST, patients from all over the world are treated with these methods.

Self-Development of Medical Equipment

Entwicklung medizintechnischer Geräte

Generally, industry neglects products, which have minimal demand, resulting in an unprofitable product. Dr. Klaus and Sabine Berndsen began arduously to build the urgently needed assistive devices during evenings in their own workshop. These devices were mainly built for a particular patient and were made available to the patient either free of cost or charged only for the material cost. New legal regulations bound to extensive and expensive testing procedures of the products made the creative venture increasingly more difficult to maintain. For a variety of assistive technologies, the inventors were awarded patents for their work.

Scientific Publication and Publicity

Concerning the application of their inventions, new forms of therapy, technologies and research results, Berndsen/Berndsen publish this information in books and professional journals. Television, radio and print media report repeatedly about their new therapeutic methods and technological developments.

Univesity Seminars, Professional Training for Physicians and Therapists

Besides their therapeutic work at ISST, Dr. Klaus and Sabine Berndsen teach seminars at different universities in Germany and abroad and are active clinical work. In the framework of these responsibilities, they guide research and supervise the scientific development.

Dr. Klaus and Sabine Berndsen regularly instruct vocational and professional trainings for physicians and therapists in their own and in differing worldwide facilities, at congresses, etc. Thereby, the focus is on scientific involvement and practical implementation of the therapeutic methods and technical applications which Berndsen/Berndsen developed at ISST in Unna.

Facilities at the Institute for Special Systemic Therapy

praxis-04-w praxis-19-w Trainingsraum praxis-10-w

The therapies at ISST are supported through modern assistive technologies. For diagnosis and treatment, rooms for single or group treatments, training and rehabiltation rooms with technical equipment, modern instrumentation, a nap room and outside therapy possibilities.

Employees at ISST

To ensure trusted, personable contact between patient and therapist, the ISST is organized in spatial, staff manageable and familial structure. The ISST therapists are required to have a university degree (Master’s) in the area of rehabilitation and thereafter to obtain technical specialization at ISST which last several years. The therapists are distinguished by their high level of technical expertise and social intelligence.

Intensive Therapy

Intensive therapies have been given by ISST in Unna for many years. Local, national and international patients have taken advantage of this offering.

Until 2010, patients from 92 different countries have taken part or introduced themselves to the treatment opportunities at ISST.

The goal of the intensive therapies is the significant improvement of functional operation or functional compensation of inherited or acquired disabilities: Diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, diabilities due to accidents, syndroms and of disruptions in the following activities:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Swallowing
  • Motion
  • Body tension
    and balance
  • Speaking
  • Perception
    and cognition

The special therapies of ISST are well-known for their effectiveness and are supervised by experienced, long-standing academically and practically trained ISST therapists. Besides expert professionalism, an empathetic and individual conduct with the patients is furthermore an important basis for a success therapy outcome. The therapy module is designed for every individual patient.

ISST Principles

  • Supervision of individual treatment in a well-observed and familial atmosphere with specially trained rehabilitation personnel.
  • Execution of highly controlled quality standards when necessary
  • A trusting relationship between therapists and patients
  • Avoidance of site and personnel expansions at ISST
  • Limited number of intensive patients at any one time during treatment – maximum of 5 patients

Variable Intensive Therapy Time Courses

  • Compact weekly
    Duration of 1 to 12 weeks
  • Daily treatment schedule
    of 3 to 5 units
  • Daily for several hours
  •  Weekend schedule

The duration of the intensive courses are agreed between ISST and the individual patient.

Accomodation During Treatment

All intensive patients and their loved ones are accomodated outside of the ISST premises. There are hotels, private pensions or apartments near ISST available for accomodation needs. Outside the therapy schedule, nursing staff may be ordered when necessary. The costs for food, lodging, nursing care, etc. are not covered in the treatment costs.

Supplementary Services

Supplementary services are available if required:

  • Shuttle service between airport and ISST
  • Daily shuttle service to the treatment
  • Hotel or apartment booking
  • Car rental booking
  • Nursing care booking

Intensive Therapy Costs

Intensive therapies are private demands. Generally, patients are responsible for the treatment costs. If the costs are to be paid by a third party, the patient must clarify the arrangement before the start of therapy. A signed statement from the third party of compulsory payment must be presented to ISST prior services rendered.

ViVoCom Communicator System

VivoCom is a communication system with language exercises for persons with speech handicaps. Dr. Klaus and Sabine Berndsen developed this system to help with speech and communication difficulties. VivoCom can be used efficiently in diagnosis and therapy.

ViVoCom Communicator – Computer Supported Therapy

Development by Dr. Berndsen/Berndsen

VivoCom is a modern content management system (CMS). The creation, processing and organization of the content can be directed by the user or therapist alone or collaboratively.

ViVoCom CommunicatorVivoCom kann wird mit hoher Effizienz auch in der Diagnose und Therapie eingesetzt.
The contents are prepared from text and multimedia documentation. Explicitly, VivoCom uses analogous pictures, photographs, writing, and speech. These elements are for every communication situation available. The creator or author can use the system without any programming knowledge.


ViVoCom CommunicatorIn the first place normally basic communication fields are created such as hygiene (basic bathroom), nutrition (basic kitchen), clothing and sleeping (basic bedroom)

For the persons unable to speak, VivoCom is a useful communication tool. For the speaker and his audience, the possibility offer a way to explore thematic correlations together.



Tramp Trainer

Therapy-Supported Training with High-Quality Equipment

The training on the tramp coach is considerably more intense than on a hard floor panel due to an elastic, soft jumping mat. Spine and joints are spared the same time. The trainee obtains energetic charge instead of sufferring harmful mechanical shock effects.

Tramp Trainer is used in rehabilitation as well as in recreational and competitive sports. Fields of application are, inter alia, treating handicaps after injury or surgery on the ankle, knee and hip joints, in obesity or osteoporosis prevention.

Gentle Training for Spinal Column and Joints

Tramp Trainer

  • Body coordination
  • Muscle strength of legs, back and abdomen
  • Motor functions and balance
  • Pelvic floor
  • Leaded motion
  • Gentle load on joints and skeletal system
  • Strength and power
  • Cardio-Vascular Training

Numerous applicationss and indications

  • Coordination disturbances
  • Musculature dysfunction
  • Balance disturbances
  • After injuries or operations on foot, knee and hip joints
  • Physical disability
  • Paralysis
  • Osteoporosis prevention
  • Abduction or extension
  • Other disorders (please ask our specialists)


Quelle: Frei AG

Positive characteristics of Tramp Trainer application

  • Alternating tension and relaxation of the complete body musculature
  • Activation of metabolism, digestive organs, lymph system and cardiovascular system
  • Alternating between binding and stretching of the body
  • Guided motion
  • Gentle stress placed on joints and skeletal system
  • By specific placement the patient’s body weight is reduced and employed in a dose-dependent manner with the training


The OSP therapy has been successfully applied in numerous indications such as TMJ problems, snoring and sleep apnea, paralysis, lack mouth or tongue circuit malfunction. The OSP used are characterized by a high user acceptance. The desired orofacial reactions typically occur convincingly.

Oral Stimulation Plate Therapy
acc. Dr. Berndsen/Berndsen

therapie-osp-04-wAccording to the gum plate concept of Dr. Castillo Morales, Dr. Klaus and Sabine Berndsen at ISST researched and developed the OSP Therapy since 1989. As a result, more than 3000 OSP therapies with differing stimuli and materials for patients have been created and the stimulation-reaction influences measured.

Ultimately, OSP developed from 16 distinctively individual stimulus bodies which are integrated in a soft plate system. OSP provokes intraoral stimulations such as tongue, lip, soft palate activation and influence on complex functions: Swallowing, breathing, chewing, neurological behaviors, ventilation of the middle ear and improvement proprioceptive activities. OSP supports initiation, correction, and automation of basic tensions, basic positions and functional models.

A range of typical OSP

A range of typical OSP

Stimulus body variations, variations in material hardness and strength are decisive for the successful course of therapy. Scientific investigations support the successfulness of the OSP concepts and prove greater advantages as oppose to other soft palate therapies.

The necessary quality standards of the novel neurophysiological OSP therapies are selected in cooperation of universities, dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, speech therapists, dental technicians and clinics. OSP manufacturers, special laboratories are trained and require a certification for the OSP production by the specialists of the Dr. Berndsen GmbH company.

Indications for OSP

  • Difficulties eating and drinking
  • Change from special nutrition to physiological nutrition
  • Changing from mouth to nose breathing
  • Special handicaps, syndromes (i.e Down’s Syndrome)
  • Cleft palate
  • Failure to close mouth
  • Hypersalivation
  • Facial paralysis (i.e. after stroke)
  • Neurological problems
  • Tongue enlargement (Macroglossia)
  • Incorrect tongue function
  • Post tongue operations and by tongue paralysis
  • Initiation of correct swallowing behaviors
  • Preventive jaw orthopedics
  • Mandibular joint problems
  • Facial, shoulder and neck pain
  • Snoring and sleep apnea

Research Results

Comparative clinical scientific studies of the OSP therapy of Berndsen/Berndsen draw the following conclusion:

“After application of OSP therapy (Berndsen/Berndsen) show that within a six-month observation period a noticeable increase in application acceptance and the desired oral-facial reactions were adapted to convincingly. With this result, it can be assumed that the application of OSP therapy in an individual case is not only more comfortable, physically, than other stimulus plate applications, increasing compliance of its use. The activation of desired form and function was also adapted to. The variations of the OSP systems which are offered from Berndsen/Berndsen take into account the necessary individual stimulation intensity and direction.”

University of Hamburg, Department of Orthodontics.

OSP Characteristics

Individual OSP are made from soft materials, which are developed and approved for medical technology. The product does not exert pressure or create unwanted irritations in the mouth. The use of the OSP in the mouth does not uncomfortably fill the mouth because of the thinness of the material and therefore hinders insignificantly the familiar spatial settings within the mouth.

OSP Application

OSP are placed in the soft palate three times daily (not during feeding) for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. In some cases, the device is worn at night. The OSP adheres to the gum tissue. The adhesion of the OSP may be helped with the use of menthol-free fixative creams.

Application Example – Child with Down’s Syndrome

Before OSP Application - Child with Down's Syndrome

1. Before OSP Application

Insertion of OSP - Child with Down's Syndrome

2. Insertion of OSP

Spontaneous reaction on OSP - Child with Down's Syndrome

3. Spontaneous reaction on OSP



Korbmacher H., Berndsen, K., Berndsen S., Kahl-Nieke, B.: Vorstellung eines modifizierten Stimulationsplattensystems bei Kindern mit Down Syndrom. In: Forum Logopädie, Zeitschrift des Deutschen Bundesverbandes für Logopädie, Heft 3, Mai 2003, S. 14-16


The therapeutic concept of rehabilitation physician Dr. Castillo Morales from Argentina includes the usual sensomotoric development of the child. Inner and outer perceptions are stimulated by specific therapeutical techniques. Additionally effort is beeing applied on the footrest to raise the children as early as possible. The Castillo Moralez Therapy involves the formation of emotional, communicative and social behaviour as weill as it’s autonomous development.

Castillo Morales Therapy

Castillo-Morales-Therapy – Orofacial Regulation Therapy (ORT) – Has been offered and continually expanded at ISST since 1989.

Dr. Klaus and Sabine Berndsen’s work generated significant excitement in the USA and Argentina in the 1980s. They worked for several weeks in 1988 in the Dr. Morales’ clinic in Cordoba, Argentina. Under his tutelage, they learned the theory and practical application of his methods. In the following years, the Berndsen’s took part in further professional courses, which Dr. Morales offered in Germany. At the Professional Training Institute at ISST, physicians and therapists are able to learn these methods.

La communication “lo primero del primero!”
Communication is “the first of firsts”

Therefore, it is our responsibility to facilitate communication with our partner. If he is unable to use vocal communication, we must decode his meanings and attempt to arrive at his level of communication. With patients, their loved one’s, their environment and cultures, we must continually compensate for needs and desires to be able to provide their companions a different quality of life, more self determination and independence.

Dr. Rodolfo Castillo Morales

Components of the Castillo Morales Therapy

The therapy concept of the argentinian rehabilitation physician, Dr. Morales, considers the normal course of sensory motor development of children. It developed from his many years of experience in treating muscular hypotonic children. This concept allows for the excitation of perception from the environment and from self (i.e. muscles, tendons, joints) through special stimulation techniques. In parallel, intensive foot supportive functions are reinforced to help children as early as possible to achieve a standing position. Emotional, communication and social development requirements are also considered such as human autonomous development criteria.

Special knowledge of Castillo Morales Therapists

  • Musculature and its operations
  • The interdependency of the above systems
  • Therapeutic equipment
  • Development of physiological functions of the orofacial and total body complexes


Team Expertise

A successful treatment requires more than routine diagnoses and standard therapies. At ISST an individually customized diagnostic and therapy program is designed for every patient. The therapists are prepared for their interactive team work at ISST by having studied Rehabilitation Science and obtaining additional professional and job trainings in practice and theory which takes several years to complete. Therefore, they possess on the one hand a wide spectrum of theoretical and practical knowledge typical for treatment and rehabilitation regimens. On the other hand, the therapists also learn special methods, which have been developed and used successfully at ISST for more than twenty years. Finally, therapies require creative talents as well. Therapies must always be integrated, individually customized and continually revised. This type of therapy demands a high degree of qualification, dedication and flexibility. Only specially selected therapists are able to meet the requirements of ISST.

Therapist Qualifications at ISST


AusbildungA university degree in the area of Rehabilitation Science with at least one additional concentration relevant to rehabilitation is required. After successfully graduating the degree program, three years of internship and supervised therapy practice are expected at ISST, resulting in certification in a broad-ranging spectrum of multidisciplinary professional knowledge, diagnosis and therapy organization and practical implementation of therapies. The successful completion is obtained through promotion to certified ISST Rehabilitation Therapist.

Some Special Qualifications

  • Special knowledge about the application of diagnostic methods and materials
  • Excellent communication and social skills necessary to establish and maintain a trustworthy therapeutic setting.
  • Routine professional and job trainings in the areas of diagnosis and therapy
  • Knowledge about new developments in assistive technologies, especially for the area of rehabilitation
  • Broad psychological knowledge in psychological assistance of patients, improvement of the therapist and patient relationship, retention of motivation during therapy.
  • Ability to individualize the therapeutic work considering the particular capabilities of the patient
  • Trend diagnostics of the amount of effort and need necessary for effective therapies
  • Feedback for the patients based on the trend diagnostics
  • Cost effective treatment organization
  • Internal and external cooperation: Constructive exchange of experiences with other experts
  • Flexible, timely treatment schedule divided over six days per week
  • Knowledge of assistive and rehabilitation technologies
  • Knowledge of foreign languages

Learn more… The team of the ISST introduces itselfs

A Heart for Children
Ein Herz für Kinder

German relief organization “Ein Herz für Kinder” (A Heart for Children) affords Janos from Hungary successful treatment at ISST Unna

Hungarian little one Janos got a two-week intensive therapeutic treatment from Sabine Berndsen and Dr. Klaus Berndsenam at ISST Unna. At birth the boy suffered an oxygen deficiency, causing mentally and physically severe disabilities to him. The parents visited specialists worldwide with her son, until they came in to the center for rehabilitation in Unna December 2009.

The whole movement and sensory apparatus of the little patient was stimulated during the intensive therapy. After a few days already first signs of success were recorded, so that the boy who was previously fed exclusively by gavage, began swallowing and elementary chewing.

Janos lacht


We offer qualified and personalized treatments for different diseases, disabilities and syndromes to our national and international patients. The wide range of methods in diagnosis and treatment relies on our scientific developments, own patents as well as on extensive practical experience.

Therapy Programm

Speech and Language

  • Phonation disorder (dyslalia)
  • Grammar disorder (dysgrammatism)
  • Autismus
  • Mutismus
  • Communication disorders
  • Problems finding words (lexical disorders)
  • Loss of speech after a stroke or brain injury – aphasia
  • Neurological disorders (dysarthria, among others)
  • Stuttering, cluttering
  • Cleft lip, cleft palate and other malformations
  • Mouth, tongue, nose injuries (eg after surgery)
  • Bilingual language training (bilingualism)


  • Impaired voice use, loss of voice
  • Hoarseness, forced cough
  • Paralysis of vocal cord
  • Partial or total removal of the larynx (laryngectomy)
  • Nasal speech (rhinolalia)



  • Switching from mouth to nasal breathing
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Respiratory disabilities by narrowed airways
  • Asthma
  • Allergies

Hearing and Balance

  • Hearing loss, deafness
  • Listening and speaking with cochlear implants
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness

Neurological Disorder

  • Alzheimer, dementia
  • Stroke (apoplexy)
  • brain disorders

Disorders in Eating, Drinking or Swallowing

  • Troubled swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Paralysis in orofacial region
  • Switch from tube feeding to physiological nutrition
  • Salivation (drooling)
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Diseases caused by metabolic disorders


  • Head, face, jaw joints
  • Migraine
  • Shoulder, neck, arm region, back

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

  • Snoring
  • Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
  • Sleep disorders

 Teeth, Jaw and Jaw Joints

  • Misaligned teeth, malocclusion (prevention and assistance in orthodontics)
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Temporomandibular pain
  • Correction of muscle functions with inclusion of dental prosthetics and dental implants

Movement and Neurological Damage

  • Cerebral movement disorders (i.a. CP)
  • Head injuries, such as traumatic brain injury
  • Paraplegia
  • Muscular dystrophies
  • Stroke (apoplexy)
  • Brain tumors and spinal cord tumors
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease


Learning Disabilities

  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Preschool training
  • Enrollment and school diagnostics
  • Expert reports


  • ADD and ADHD – Attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder
  • Perceptual impairments

Special therapies

  • NCS Therapy – Neuro-cell stimulation therapy (acc. Berndsen/Berndsen)
  • Orofacial regulation therapy (acc.Castillo Morales)
  • Myofunctional Therapy
  • CCF therapy – cranio-cervical-function therapy (acc. Berndsen/Berndsen)
  • FFT – FaceFormer therapy (acc.Berndsen/Berndsen)
  • OSP therapy  – oral stimulation plates therapy (acc. Berndsen/Berndsen)
  • TAS  – training therapy for apnea and snoring (acc. Berndsen/Berndsen)
  • KVT therapy (sound-ventilation-tone therapy) (acc. Berndsen/Berndsen)
  • Therapy for tinnitus, hearing loss, dizziness (acc. Berndsen/Berndsen)
  • AMK  – Akupedics with sounds for the treatment of deafness, disorders of perception and concentration (acc. Berndsen/Berndsen)
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • Articulation, rhetoric training and vocal hygiene (e.g. for professional speakers)

Learn more about our Spezial Therapies.

Therapy Organisation

  • Intensive treatment (accommodation if necessary)
  • Group therapy and caregiver training

You want individual treatment or counseling?

Call us on [eating-fon] or use our contact contact form for therapy requests.

Learn more about special therapies at ISST

Learn more about intensive therapies at ISST

Learn more about special diagnostic and measurement methods at ISST