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The team at the Rehabilitation Institute is driven to help patients recapture as much strength and independence as possible. We want to give our patients their lives back.
When Josh woke at his home in Henderson in the middle of the night unable to walk, paramedics rushed him to St. Rose Dominican’s Rose de Lima Campus. After spending two weeks in the hospital getting his health stabilized, the Rehabilitation Institute staff took over and helped Josh walk out the front doors.
Josh was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre (pronounced Gē-yän Bä Rā) Syndrome, a rare, serious autoimmune disorder that damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness and paralysis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the syndrome affects one out of every 100,000 people.
“Doctors think I had a virus that locked on to my nerve endings,” says Josh. “So after fighting off the virus, my body thought the nerve endings were still part of it, and it just kept attacking.” With Josh bedridden, doctors turned to the hospital’s Rehabilitation Institute and its new robotic technology for answers.
Fortunately for Josh, the Rehabilitation Institute had recently received three new robotic rehabilitation therapy machines made by Hocoma® Products: the Erigo®, Lokomat Pro®, and Armeo®Power and Hand Therapy robot. According to Dr. Tony Chin, Medical Director of the Rehabilitation Institute, the hospital is the first in the southwest United States to receive the equipment.
Erigo® - The Erigo® (shown right with Josh) is a robotic mobilization and electrical stimulation support system that helps patients stand again after long periods of lying down. Named Apollo Zen by the Rehabilitation Institute (“Apollo” for god of the sky and “Zen” for health), it gradually moves the patient into an upright position, allowing them to gain the strength to stand. Robotic foot pedals help patients improve their blood circulation while doing passive, active or resisted exercise. The system also uses functional electrical stimulation to assist in muscle contraction, which speeds strengthening.
“The whole idea is to get the muscles to contract so we get blood flow back to the heart,” says Dr. Chin. “With good blood flow, the heart starts to pump, and we can slowly tilt the patient upright while maintaining their blood pressure. If they’re able to maintain blood pressure, they’re able to do therapy.”
A few days after Josh was admitted to Rose de Lima, the Erigo® arrived. He was the first patient to test out the new technology. “The Erigo® was amazing,” says Josh. “It got me moving again. I've been on my feet ever since.”
Lokomat Pro® – The Rehabilitation Institute’s Lokomat Pro®, a customizable robotic gait training system that helps patients walk again, has been nicknamed “Optimus Yung” (Optimus, a robot character in the movie “Transformers” that helps humans, and Yung, the Chinese word for “courageous”). The name is fitting because it takes a lot of courage for a patient to get on the machine and try to walk again after a stroke or traumatic injury.
The machine (shown left) hoists patients upright using a harness that moves up and down and side to side to simulate the natural “bob” of a walking person. Robotic legs attach to the patient’s hips, knees, and ankles to guide them as they move forward on a treadmill, and a hip attachment feature allows natural hip movement. A video screen facing the patient offers games that encourage movement and provide instant feedback.
The Lokomat Pro® has both automatic and manual settings. New patients are typically placed on an automatic setting so they can experience concise and repetitive movements to form new muscle memory. The settings are gradually moved to manual as the patient improves. “The movement has to be precise and accurate,” says Dr. Chin. “If not, they will learn a bad pathway.”
After stabilizing his blood pressure using the Erigo®, Josh used the Lokomat Pro® to regain his ability to walk. “The machine got me started,” says Josh. “I went from not being able to walk to moving my legs to being able to hold my weight to walking all over again. Now, I feel like I can almost jump again.”
“It’s like the old expression, ‘You never forget how to ride a bike,’” says Josh. “Well, you never forget how to walk either. Sometimes it just takes a while to get it down the way you did before, but the amazing staff here at the Rehabilitation Institute helps you do it.”
Armeo®Power – The Armeo®Power (shown right) is an upper body robot that helps patients regain the use of their arms. Dr. Chin says the machine focuses on repetition to increase strength and improve mobility of the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Like the Lokomat Pro®, it uses video games to encourage patients and give them instant feedback.
“Our Armeo®Power is named Rosie Chern,” says Dr. Chin. “’Rosie’ after Rosie the Riveter (an American icon during World War II representing women who worked in factories), and Chern, the Chinese word for being successful.”
Former patient Lana Million experienced the machine’s success after suffering from a debilitating stroke in July 2014 that caused her entire left side to become numb. After spending two weeks recovering at St. Rose Dominican’s Siena Campus, Lana was transferred to the Rehabilitation Facility at Rose de Lima to rehabilitate using the Armeo®Power. “My fingers and arm would move, but I couldn’t control them,” Lana says. “The Armeo helped me learn how to squeeze things, and it gave me the whole range of movement back in my arm. I can’t imagine having better therapy.”
“Our emergency rooms save lives,” says Teressa Conley, President/CEO of the Rose de Lima Campus, “but life-saving technology is just part of the picture. After trauma, accident, or stroke, it is only through rehabilitative services that patients really get their lives back. Regaining the ability to do something as simple as combing your hair or brushing your teeth or something incredibly difficult, such as learning to walk and be independent again, is truly life-saving.”
In the past, residents had to travel out of state for care beyond traditional therapy. Now that the Rehabilitation Institute has the Hocoma® technology, residents can recover in their own community.
When Scott Frost was paralyzed from the neck down during a dirt bike accident in 2009, he initially completed his rehabilitation without the benefit of robotics because the new equipment was not yet available in the valley and he wanted to stay close to friends and family for support.
"I worked with therapists using parallel bars and treadmills, but that equipment isn't specialized for neurological rehab," Scott says. We had to do things manually, whereas the Rehabilitation Institute now allows automated rehab to get maximum repetitions for best results. With these machines, we can get hours of repetitions in per day, which would take weeks in a manual setting.
Scott (with wife Megan at right) is usually in a wheelchair, but with the help of the new robotic technology, combined with the healing hands of skilled physical and occupational therapists, nurses, and physicians - and his wife, Megan - he is able to move around for short periods of time with the use of a walker.
The robotic technology offered at the Rehabilitation Institute now allows patients to have the best of both worlds: the most current technology and the support of friends and family. For Josh, staying close to home was important because it allowed him to visit with his two small children every other day. “If I was out of state, that wouldn't have been an option,” Josh says. “It was hard not being able to hold my kids when they were sitting right next to me, but having them visit was motivation. It kept me pushing, and it kept me moving forward. I did it for them.”
At a recent unveiling of the new equipment, Conley agreed.“We are proud to be the leader in rehabilitative services for our region,” she says. “Residents of southern Nevada should not need to leave the community to get the best medical care available.” To learn more, call 702.616.4564.