Relearning to Walk
Robot-assisted therapy provides effective treatment for patients unable to walk due to severe neurological damage.
What is the Lokomat?
The Lokomat is a rehabilitative therapy device that helps people who have had neurological damage caused by brain or spinal cord injury re-learn to walk. It is an exoskeleton with numerous embedded sensors that assist with leg movements as much or as little as needed, while the patient walks on the uniquely designed treadmill. Patients using the Lokomat experience and repeat normal walking patterns, which are key to improving upright mobility.
Why You Might Need the Lokomat
After suffering a neurological injury, individuals often struggle with loss of leg movement that renders them unable to safely walk. The Lokomat is designed to help patients recover movement and functional use of their legs. Used in combination with traditional physical therapy, it can improve their ability to safely walk while also improving their quality of life. Progress can be seen in individuals with recently diagnosed neurological impairments as well as those who have struggled for many years with limitations in their ability to move their legs and walk.
How the Lokomat Works
Following thorough assessment of leg strength and movement, as well as the patient’s ability to safely walk, the physical therapist places the patient in the ergonomic exoskeleton. After carefully calibrating the sensors and motors through a computer interface, the patient begins to walk on the treadmill with the exoskeleton helping him or her achieve a more normal gait pattern. Sensors in the Lokomat record movements and provide feedback throughout the training session. This feedback can be compiled into reports that show progress over time, which may be needed to justify a continuation of therapy or simply help patients identify the progress they are making. As the patients learn to move with progressively less assistance from the Lokomat, they are transitioned to walking on the ground with the use of an assistive device and manual assistance from a therapist.
Benefits to Patients
The Lokomat allows patients to learn to move their legs in ways that would otherwise be impossible. It provides opportunities for mass repetitions of these more normal leg movements, which is a key to gait training. Because patients can see progress and work toward a goal, they will often push themselves harder than they realized possible.