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News Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Lokomat system helps patients with varying walking abilities, conditions

Patients see improvement in endurance, speed and strength

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa is proud be the first hospital in Florida to offer the Lokomat system, configured especially for pediatric patients. The rehabilitation services department’s newest program allows children (over age 4) and adolescents with various walking abilities and conditions to experience a guided repeatable walking pattern. After participating in the program, children see improvement in their ability to perform many functional activities.

Each child receives a comprehensive physical therapy evaluation performed by the specially trained and certified physical therapist. The therapist provides one-on-one therapy throughout the Lokomat training to challenge the child and continually measure improvements in endurance, speed and strength. Families commit to 60 minutes of therapy per session at a minimum, two days per week for six to eight weeks.

The Lokomat has a pair of robotic gait exoskeletons with hip and knee joints that are expertly sized to the child and attached by cuffs and straps.The child’s body weight is supported by a harness, which lowers the child onto the treadmill through the computer system. Selected computer visual feedback games and the therapist help motivate the child as they “retrain” their brain through the provided sensory input that helps them experience typical walking.

Lokomat is an effective and efficient tool for the therapist to motivate their patient and ensure excellent results from this task specific intensive training without having to support the patient for balance and safety.

“So far, every participant has shown and reported positive outcomes at the end of their training and look forward to scheduling a second session with the Lokomat,” said Sandra Smith, MS, PT, director of rehabilitation services and certified Lokomat therapist.

Zoe Strong is one of those patients. The 14-year-old from Wesley Chapel, Florida, who has a form of cerebral palsy that causes weakness on her right side, benefited greatly from her first session, gaining strength and endurance.

"It was hard for her to walk long distances," said her mother, Tracy. Thanks to the Lokomat, "she can go farther without tiring now."

Pictured: Patient Bentley Rogers enjoys using the Lokomat in rehabilitation services.