New Technology Helps Spinal Cord Injuries - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/12/06

New Technology Helps Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are among the toughest to heal but thanks to new technology, not all those injuries are permanent today.

Doctors have found that patients with slight feeling can regain more movement than they ever thought possible. Especially now with the help of an amazing new machine. It's called the Lokomat, and at the Rehab Institute of Chicago, the Lokomat is helping people like Gernard Fulton, who was paralyzed when she fell victim to a bullet in her spine.

"I couldn't walk.. I couldn't feed myself. I really couldn't do anything for myself," says Gernard Fulton who was paralyzed after a shooting.

The Lokomat is a special treadmill can help the body and brain learn to walk again. Researchers at the University of Texas, Southwest Medical Center are also studying this new therapeutic device. The robot assisted Lokomat supports spinal cord patients while moving their legs in a walking motion. MRI scans of the patients before and after treatment show an increase of activity in the part of the brain that controls movement, and people like Gernard are making great strides after months on the Lokomat. Doctors say they really don't know why it works for some patients, but they think it may re-awaken the connection between the brain and the legs.

"You have someone that's been in a chair not able to walk. Then to be in this device and have your legs move in a more natural pathway it's very exciting and gives everybody you hope," says Todd Kuiken at the Rehab Institute of Chicago.

Without the Lokomat, a patient would need three therapist to help them mimic walking. Dr. Kuiken says that could actually be more time consuming and more expensive than treatment on a machine, when the Lokomat becomes widely available.

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