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Robotic Exoskeleton Helps Spinal Cord Injury Patients Walk

The ReWalk system works like a high-tech body suit, providing motorized assistance to help paralyzed patients stand up and move their legs. Therapists work with patients on basic skills, such as sitting and standing, before progressing to walking and more advanced techniques such as climbing up and down stairs.


"We have seen some of our patients with spinal cord injuries make great progress with the ReWalk. People who thought they would never get out of a wheelchair actually stand and walk while wearing the system," says Peter Gorman, MD, associate professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief, division of rehabilitation at the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute (UMROI).

Gorman adds, "While the most obvious benefits are mobility in a standing position, patients also report additional physical benefits, including improved digestion and bowel function, which can be affected after sitting in a wheelchair for months and years."

The exoskeleton uses motorized legs to power movement in the knee and hip. On-board computers and motion sensors adjust for movement. The system mimics natural walking, and patients can work up to functional walking speed. Forearm crutches are needed for balance.

Patients with lower-limb impairment have to be able to use their hands, arms and shoulders, as well as have good cardiovascular health and skeletal strength in order to be able to use the system. UMROI is the only provider in Maryland with the ReWalk system.

"The University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute is a national leader in rehabilitation therapy, and this exoskeleton system shows our commitment to using innovative technologies to help our patients achieve their highest level of functioning," says Michael Jablonover, MD, chief executive officer of UMROI and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
The 144-bed UMROI is the largest inpatient rehabilitation hospital and provider of rehabilitation services in Maryland. Patients make the transition to rehabilitation after recovering from stroke, traumatic injury, orthopaedic surgery and other illnesses.

The University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute is part of the University of Maryland Medical System, a 12-hospital system of academic, community and specialty hospitals. For more information, go to www.UMRehabOrtho.org.
Posting Date: 01/31/2014
Contact Name: Sharon Boston
Contact Phone: 410-328-7960
Contact Email: sboston@umm.edu