Brain injury from a stroke can make it difficult for patients to walk like they are used to. Now scientists are testing a unique way to re-train the brain and get stroke victims back on their feet. It's a treadmill like no other at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute. First, it allows you to walk in a normal fashion. Then, the treadmill switches gears so that one leg is walking three times faster than the other.
"By putting them in this unusual situation, we can actually force the brain to learn a new pattern between the two legs," says Amy Bastian, PhD., at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute.
A healthy brain stores the new walking pattern quickly, but after a few minutes the machine causes both legs to return to the same speed.
"You end up limping on the other leg. And it again feels like, it feels like the tracks are moving at different speeds, but they're not," says Dallas Kingsbury, a brain injury patient.
Researchers are hoping they can use this therapy someday to re-train patients with brain injury or cerebral palsy to create and learn a new, normal walking pattern.