Vector system...helping patients with spinal cord injuries

A new piece of equipment is giving stroke and spinal-cord injury patients new hope.

At the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Institute, they're using the vector system to help make it easier and safer for stroke victims to get on their feet again, and learn to walk.

The vector gait and safety system is a robotic trolley system attached to a track on the ceiling with a harness that drops down for the patient to wear. But the harness does more than just hold the patient steady.

"You can put things on the floor for them to maneuver around and I can even do things with him like have him fall on the floor and practice getting up which happens to people as they're re-learning their walking skills. You can't do that on other pieces of equipment," says Dr. Peter Gorman, who is with Neurology and Rehabilitation at the University of Maryland.

Some with severe disabilities are able to walk freely in space. They are also practicing turns and what it takes to go up steps, even before their feet hit the ground.

Patients say it alleviates the fear that comes with getting up and using muscles again that have been resting for some time in a wheelchair.

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