Real-life rehab helping patients

When patients suffer a brain injury, fall, or have balance issues, rehabilitation can make all the difference in their recovery.

Now, rehab is going high-tech.

It looks like a spacesuit, but Angelica is gearing up to use a new machine.

The vector helps patients like Angelica learn to walk again after an injury. She is recovering from a brain aneurysm.

Doctor Alan Novick, Medical Director at Memorial Rehabilitation Institute, says it, "Keeps the patient from falling, so it builds a lot of confidence."

Patients are fully supported by the machine. They can walk long distances and practice a normal gait by swinging their arms, something they cannot do with a walker.

Anna Maria Castaneda, a therapist, says, "If I give somebody a walker, I’m already changing their pattern. With the vector, I don't need that walker."

Therapists do not have to hold the patient up, so they can assist in other ways. It also allows patients to walk sooner after their injury.

Dr. Novick says, "This is one of the most exciting devices we've had in a very long time."

The vector can help any patient who experiences weakness. Around 1.7 million Americans suffer a brain injury each year. One in three older adults fall and about 15-percent of Americans have problems with balance or dizziness.

Models also help patients with everyday activities they are likely to face when they return home.

Castaneda says, "Well it makes it more realistic for the patient."

Patients practice getting in and out, shopping, and even using a mock ATM. On her first day of therapy, Angelica could not even stand.

It is high-tech and real-life therapy helping patients get back to everyday life.

Dr. Novick says the vector can help patients with any kind of neurological injury or other conditions like Parkinson’s, MS, stroke or spinal cord injuries.

MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS
RESEARCH SUMMARY

TOPIC: High-Tech, Real-Life Rehab
REPORT: 3820

SPINAL CORD INJURY: The spinal cord acts as a hub for a group of nerves that run from the brain to other parts of the body. These nerves allow the brain to send messages to the arms, legs and other areas to command movement. There are other nerves that travel back from the arms and legs to the brain that bring information back about senses and the environment. Unlike many other parts of the body, the spinal cord is extremely sensitive and cannot repair itself once damaged. A complete spinal cord injury occurs when there is a complete loss of function in the body below the injured section. An incomplete spinal cord injury still has some function below the injured section. Each year, there are approximately 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries in the United States. (Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/spinal_cord_injury_treatments_and_rehabilitation/article.htm)

TREATMENT: Injuries to the spinal cord can be difficult for doctors to treat. In some cases, steroids are given to the patient in the very early stages of the injury in order to quickly reduce inflammation and swelling. When performing surgery on the spinal cord, doctors must first relieve any remaining pressure and reduce any amount of compression. If the vertebrae are severely damaged, it may not be able to support the patient and metal screws and plates must be inserted. (Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/spinal_cord_injury_treatments_and_rehabilitation/page4.htm#how_is_a_spinal_cord_injury_treated)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new high-tech device known as Vector is helping spinal cord injury patients walk again without the fear of falling. The Vector is a robotic support system that attaches a patient to a harness that's connected to a trolley system on the ceiling. This harness holds the patient upright as they practice walking and gives them added support. Vector is also well received because its harness keeps the patient from falling down while they rehab their walking. Eliminating this fear allows the patients more focus on the rehab and less worrying about not supporting themselves. (Source: http://www.bioness.com/Healthcare_Professionals/Vector_Gait_and_Safety_System.php)


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