The Lokomat is a gait-training machine that helps people who cannot walk to eventually train their muscles to walk. People with serious injury to their nervous system sometimes lose the ability to control the muscles that activate and move their limbs. As a result, they may lose the ability to use their hands effectively, or to use their legs to walk the way most normal people do.
Until recently, doctors and medical researchers were under the assumption that the adult nervous system did not possess the ability to recover from injury. Fortunately, the Lokomat, which you can buy from the Romanian medical supply company named Procardia, has proved their assumptions wrong.
The Lokomat helps people to relearn motor skills using other parts of their nervous system which are still intact. Most of us do this successfully when we learn a new skill. For instance, when we learn to write with our other hand, we are training our nervous system to activate a certain group of muscles to achieve a certain set of coordinated movements. Likewise, when we learn to play a new musical instrument, like the piano for instance, we are again training the nervous system to activate certain muscles to play the right note at the right time.
The Lokomat has a system of harnesses that hoists a person up and holds them in an upright position. Initially, the harnesses support the entire weight of the individual. An exoskeleton structure is then fitted onto the legs of the patient. When the device is activated, it moves the legs to mimic a normal walk cycle.
The whole system is controlled by a computer software which can adjust and correct the gait of the individual. Slowly, the support from the harness is reduced, and the legs of the patient are made to carry a small portion of the body weight. This helps atrophied muscles to regain their strength and tone. It also retrains the nervous system to achieve a normal walk cycle.
The device has been tested on a number of patients, especially veterans who have been injured in the line of duty. Doctors are amazed at the pace of recovery that most of them have achieved with the help of the device.
Lokomat is a product designed by a Swiss company called Hocoma. The company specialized in robotic rehabilitation therapy to treat neurological movement disorders. Neurological patients that suffer from movement disorders due to spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease can benefit from this product. It is also effective in providing intensive locomotion therapy for small children suffering from cerebral palsy or other types of neurological disorders.
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