The Post-Standard reports that a robot at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, New York (NY), is helping a disabled woman relearn how to walk.
In 2009, the 45-year-old woman was partially paralyzed after falling down a flight of stairs. The damage she sustained to her spinal cord during the fall left her unable to walk, and she has used a wheelchair ever since. At Upstate’s outpatient rehabilitation unit, however, she was hooked up to the Lokomat, a new robotic walking therapy device.
The device suspends the patient in a harness over a treadmill, while computer-controlled braces on the person’s legs move him or her in a natural walking motion. Lokomat is designed to help patients learn how to walk again after spinal cord injuries, strokes, traumatic brain injuries, or neurological diseases such as cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis.
Made by Hocoma, a Swiss company, there are 85 Lokomats in the United States. In New York at present, Upstate and the VA Medical Center in the Bronx are the only hospitals using the device.
What an amazing scientific contribution: a robot that can help people walk. We wish the best of luck to this courageous patient, and hope her rehabilitation continues to progress in a positive manner. However, in the interest of preventing terrible accidents like the one that left her disabled, be especially careful when walking up and down steps. Keep your eye out for surfaces that are slippery or in poor repair, and seek treating for injuries promptly. If you feel that your accident was the fault of someone else’s negligence, seek legal advice as soon as possible.