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Monday, Aug. 17, 2015

Realism with a Robot

New System Offers Unique Rehabilitation


New system offers unique rehabilitation

Robotics are now helping patients learn to walk again at LSU Health Shreveport.

The Vector system, a new robotic gait training system, assists in the rehabilitation process for physical therapy patients.

Physical therapists began treating patients in July. The machine is a body weight support system that helps patients who may have suffered an accident, stroke or other illness relearn to walk.

“It has already changed the way I practice neurorehabilitation,” clinical instructor Evelyn Scarborough said. “It is the most realistic training for my patients and allows me to easily grade the difficulty of any activity for those who either need more of a challenge or who need more assistance. Instead of being focused on protecting the patient from falling, I can focus on providing verbal and manual feedback to help them problem-solve their own movement patterns.”

Without the machine, it takes five physical therapists to assist one unsteady patient. Now, one or two physical therapists work with a patient using the machine. The rehabilitation clinic has a waiting list for patients, but the machine will allow physical therapists to see more patients.

Scarborough said these machines are primarily located within large inpatient rehabilitation hospitals.

The machine also restores communication between the brain and the boding by providing sensory input. This helps the patients to relearn movement such as walking, climbing chairs, standing from a chair and standing up from the floor.

“If the patient loses their balance, the machine will allow them to fall a set distance [controlled by the therapist] before catching them,” Scarborough said. “As the patient figures out how to perform the activity without falling, the brain learns what muscles need to fire and when.”

Scarborough said patients have responded well to the new system.

“All of our patients enjoy using it and tell us they work much harder than with other equipment,” Scarborough said. “All of our patients really enjoy using the Vector after the first visit or two because they learn how the machine moves and begin to trust it to safely catch them if they were to need assistance.”

Donations to the LSU Health Sciences Foundation funded this addition to LSU Health Shreveport.

For the physical therapists learning to use this new machine, Scarborough said training is relatively easy. She said the controls and settings are intuitive.

The physical therapist can also use a smartphone to work with a patient on the go.

The machine’s individualized settings allow for individualized treatment, assisting patients at a variety of rehabilitative stages.

“The therapist explains how each piece of the system works as you go along,” she said. “You can decrease use of assistive devices as you become more comfortable on the equipment.”

Scarborough said the biggest benefit of the machine is that the technology is the freedom it allows for patients to practice movements they could not normally practice.

“Patients benefit from using this technology because it allows them to practice activities they often cannot safely practice otherwise,” Scarborough said.

“You can practice walking without using your cane or walker, even if you use a wheelchair or power chair.”

– Tara Bullock

Health Fact:

LSU health shreveport is one of approximately 25 facilities in the United states with this system, and it is first of its kind in louisiana, according to bioness, the company that makes the machines.


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