(by: Diane Owens, PT, FACHE – Assistant Administrator St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital)
The future is here! Spinal Cord Injury patients once confined to wheelchairs now have the opportunity to stand and walk again thanks to amazing new exoskeleton technology.
St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital recently became one of two facilities in Texas to offer the ReWalk© Rehabilitation system, which helps patients with spinal cord injuries stand, walk and even navigate slopes and uneven terrain independently.
This state of the art device provides many practical benefits and can help enhance day-to-day activities by assisting patients with:
- Upright walking
- Increased independence
- Eye-to-eye conversations
- Participation in standing environments
- Going for a walk
ReWalk is a wearable, motor-driven robotic device that’s worn outside one’s clothing. The bionic suit—which weighs approximately 44 pounds—allows patients to walk by detecting shifts within their sense of balance and then moving their legs in a natural gait.
ReWalk is controlled by on-board computers and motion sensors, enabling user-initiated walking. ReWalk controls movement using subtle changes in the patient’s center of gravity. The forward movement of the patient is sensed by the system, which triggers a step. Repeated shifts in body position generate a sequence of steps, which allows for natural and efficient walking.
By keeping users upright on a regular basis and exercising their paralyzed limbs, ReWalk reduces most of the health problems associated with long-term wheelchair use, including thinning of the bones and pressure sores, as well as problems with urinary, respiratory, cardiovascular and digestive systems.
ReWalk users also report improvements in their psychological well-being by having the ability to communicate with people at eye level.
If you’d like to see first-hand how this technology is helping one of our patients, we encourage you to visit the Austin American-Statesman’s website (or click here for a direct link) to hear about Joe Fischer’s experiences with ReWalk.
This exoskeleton technology is revolutionizing care for individuals with spinal cord injuries, and St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital is proud to offer ReWalk Training. For more information, please call 512-544-5116.
*ReWalk is designed and developed by Argo Medical Technologies.