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Mary Free Bed Invests in New Robotic Technology to Help Patients Regain Walking Skills

Jane Brierley

Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 5, 2012

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is the first hospital in West Michigan – and one of only a few in the mary free bed patient uses lokomat proMidwest – to provide patients treatment with a Lokomat®Pro. This sophisticated, robot-assisted technology is designed to help injured children and adults regain their ability to walk.

As part of a planned $48 million expansion, the region’s leading rehabilitation hospital, invested nearly $500,000 to acquire the Lokomat®Pro. This cutting-edge technology utilizes a special treadmill equipped with robotic “legs” for patients with spinal cord, brain, stroke or other neurological injuries “remember” the pattern of walking again.

Patients are supported by a harness over a treadmill with braces attached to their legs. A computer customizes the pace of walking and the amount of bodyweight, which is supported by the Lokomat®Pro. There is also a video screen for patients to watch as they walk through video game-like settings with real-time feedback. This component fosters greater engagement with the therapy.

"Mary Free Bed is excited to increase the scope of high-tech physical therapy tools available to assist our patients reach their best possible outcomes," said Jackie Wondolowski, manager of the spinal cord injury program. "Without this technology, we use three therapists who manually help patients move their legs to simulate a normal walking pattern. The Lokomat requires only one therapist and provides a more natural, even gait for patients."

"Research shows that patients who receive this type of repetitive, automated walking therapy have a better chance of recovery. The Lokomat®Pro allows us to begin training earlier in the course of treatment."

Reporters are invited to see patients being treated with the Lokomat®Pro on Tuesday, June 5, between 9 a.m. and noon.

The investment in Lokomat®Pro technology is part of Mary Free Bed’s two-year plan to expand and renovate its Wealthy Street campus, including the addition of a new facility with additional patient beds, the transition to all-private patient rooms, new state-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment and new therapy gyms.

Benefits of the Lokomat®Pro include:

  • Wide range of training possibilities
  • Faster therapy progress through longer and more intensive sessions than manual treadmill training
  • Patient walking is easily assessed and customized
  • Improved patient motivation through visualized performance feedback
  • Single therapist operation, reducing physical strain on therapists    

A number of Mary Free Bed patients are benefiting from the Lokomat®Pro, including:

  • Robert Kamps, a Michigan Department of Transportation worker from Allegan who was hit by a vehicle in February 2011 and sustained a severe head injury. He transferred to Mary Free Bed in July 2011 for in-patient rehabilitation, progressing to outpatient therapy three months later. The staff has seen “impressive improvements” in the quality of his gait pattern since he began using the Lokomat.
  • Dr. Alice Gale, a Grand Ledge dermatologist who incurred a spinal injury after falling from a horse in February.  Gale regained the ability to walk with a walker during her inpatient stay at Mary Free Bed. She is using the Lokomat®Pro on an outpatient basis at Mary Free Bed. She reports that using the Lokomat®Pro is the only time her walking feels “normal.”
  • Robert Dykstra of Holland sustained rib and spinal fractures from a snowmobile accident in January that left him with an incomplete spinal cord injury with limited movement in his legs. He currently walks with a walker and is using the Lokomat®Pro on an outpatient basis twice each week.

About Mary Free Bed
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has served the needs of children and adults for more than a century. Comprehensive services and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enable specialty physicians and staff to achieve outstanding clinical outcomes. Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, acute care rehabilitation hospital with 80 inpatient beds and numerous outpatient specialty programs at its Grand Rapids location. A network of collaborative organizations expands the availability of Mary Free Bed services, which restore hope and freedom through rehabilitation. For additional information visit www.maryfreebed.com.

© 2015 Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital., Grand Rapids, MI | 1.855.MFB.REHAB
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