Patients in the UK are learning to walk again and are being given new hope and help from a Danish invention making its UK debut this June at Neurological Rehabilitation Expo in London.
A new bodyweight-supported rehabilitation invention from Danish mobility company Ergolet offers earlier rehabilitation including gait-training, which improves motor function and strength after serious health problems such as an acquired brain injury.
The Ergo Trainer linear body relief system gives patients an equal body-weight support during training, removes the risk and fear of falls or strain which can delay recovery, and props up user confidence along with their weight to let rehabilitation start earlier.
Developed in collaboration with Copenhagen University, its inventors say it offers increased mobility for people recovering from acquired brain injury caused by strokes, accidents and tumours, or learning to use prosthetic limbs, such as military personnel.
It also gives a lift to those who are wheelchair bound, recovering from sports injuries or morbidly obese or children born with brain injuries or with cerebral palsy.
“We can intensify physical training and show significantly faster, better recovery through an ergonomically designed device which makes the user feel safe and secure, and makes exercise fun and hugely motivating”, says UK sales director David Lomas. “Therapists have told us that it transforms the morale of someone who struggles to walk, by letting them stand on their own two feet, move their legs and stare them in the eyes, all while boosting cardiovascular health and strength or just stopping muscle loss.”
While other ambulatory aids exist, Lomas said this is uniquely versatile. “Typically, products come with a built-in treadmill which is very limiting. Ergo Trainer is used with a variety of equipment or for various floor exercise. Clients can even kick a football around”.
Its design offers multiple training possibilities and lets physiotherapists mix up treatment between treadmills, step machines, cross-fit machines, ski machines, exercise bikes or floor work. It enables 360 degree rotation, letting the user train moving forwards, sideways or backwards.
Anti-fall safety devices protect staff too, who often get hurt preventing patients falling. It is designed so patients can focus on doing more challenging exercise without fear and gain confidence while staff can focus on the patient’s work-out performance, step up intensity and personalise programmes for patients.
It was developed in co-operation with the Centre for Rehabilitation of Brain Injury (CRBI), Copenhagen, and used in patient studies there with dramatic results. CRBI’s neurorehabilitation specialist Jørgen Jørgensen, said stroke patients facing paralysis improved their walking speed by an average of 65% after a 12 week period.
“Traditionally it is hard to rehabilitate patients with impaired walking abilities because the fear of falling prevents an effective and continuous rehabilitation process”, says Jørgensen. “This shows you can remove that fear which will improve overall health and it is now the cornerstone of our intensive gait rehabilitation work”.
For patients with impaired walking ability who need gait-training, CRBI studies show a progressive training regime of repeated movement with controlled speed and adjusted treadmill elevations is the key to a full recovery.
The Ergo Trainer also lets the patient’s arms move freely so most users can develop natural gait patterns.
Therapists can oversee and treat more than one patient at a time, offering health economies. Cost savings are also offered through speedier patient rehabilitation and reduced work related injuries among therapists and fall related injuries among patients.
The system works with a walking harness and takes moments for the patient to start the training programme. The adjustable weight relief system is controlled by a simple hand control.
It is designed for people weighing up to 200 kg (almost 32 stone) and can take up to 85kg (13 st) of individual body weight creating applications for bariatric clinics too.
Ergolet will run workshops at Neurological Rehabilitation Expo, on 15–16 June 2016 with CRBI study results presented by Jørgen Jørgensen.