New Therapeutic Device Gives Stroke Patients New Hope

A new therapeutic device, called the auto-ambulator, is literally helping to get some stroke patients back on their feet again.

Gerald Webb is strapped in, clipped in, lifted, and ready for take off.

He's one of the first patients to use the auto-ambulator, a device that helps patients re-learn how to walk.

How it works
Patients are supported by an overhead harness system.

Julie Webb, a physical therapist, says, "This will allow for us to have him not take all of his weight over the treadmill."

Rotating braces are strapped to the thigh and ankle to guide a patient's legs across the treadmill.

The device is dictated by a computerized system.

The physical therapist explains, "We adjust the machine for length of their leg, as well as the length of their stride."

The auto-ambulator simulates a normal gait cycle, which helps to get a patient's brain and body back into walking shape.

Gerald is recovering from a stroke. He says this device is helping him take a step in the right direction.

Gerald Webb, the stroke patient, says, "It feels good, because I haven't been able to walk in over a year."

The device's use among medical patients
The auto-ambulator isn't only for stroke patients.

Julie Webb says, "multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, or amputees also find it useful."

Although this is only Gerald’s third time on the machine, he says his balance and posture are better.

He also says, "It gets you a little tired, but not as bad as I though it would be."

After 20 minutes Gerald is done and placed in his wheel chair again. It's something he hopes he won't be doing for much longer.

The auto-ambulator is just one aspect of rehabilitation treatment.

As for Gerald, he says he would like to be walking on his own within six months.

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