December 14, 2004 - Innovations In SCI Recovery
Patients have begun using the Lokomat, a robotic device that teaches the art of walking to those with a spinal cord injury, stroke or other damage to the brain. The $235,000 device suspends the user in a harness over a treadmill, while a robot helps swing the legs. The computer synchronizes the treadmill with the body's pace. It's "a leap" in the training of such patients, said Peter Gorman, director of the spinal cord injury program at Kernan Hospital in Baltimore. The stimulation "should help the gait pattern generators thought to be located in the lumbar" area and might, in the future, help patients regain the ability to walk, Gorman said.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Lokomat in 2002. About 12 of the devices are being used in the United States.