Another futuristic tool for rehab therapists, rehabilitation robots, assist therapists with exercises and can speed recovery for patients with such neurological impairments as traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and cerebral palsy. Practice makes permanent, and in PT, practice—repetitive movement—is key to recovery. Robots increase the number of repetitions performed by PT patients; in fact, a robot can help a patient perform ten times the number of repetitions in a normal one-hour session.
You’ve probably heard of anti-gravity and underwater treadmills, but get ready for Lokomat, a robotic treadmill that allows patients who suffer from neurological conditions to engage in task-specific repetitive movement, thus helping them regain or improve their ability to walk. (Rusk Pediatric Physical Therapy department in New York is already using this cutting-edge treadmill.) To use this innovative piece of equipment, the therapist suspends the patient over the treadmill using a harness. Then, the therapist fits the patient’s legs into the treadmill’s robotic legs. A computer then personalizes the pace of the treadmill and measures the patient’s response and progress.