For the first time in over 14 months, 57-year-old paraplegic Greg Foti is feeling sensation in his legs.
“My mind is sending the signals down to my legs to walk, and actually I’m now getting the positive feedback to my brain saying, ‘yeah, we’re walking,’” Foti, a patient at Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation, said.
These precious steps are thanks to a robot called the Lokomat. It is one of 13 new pieces of robotics at the Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation’s Klinghoffer Neurorecovery Center. These machines are changing the future of physical and cognitive therapies.
“These machines can help people do the necessary exercises so many more times in a short period of time, so the brain is rewiring. They’re getting the benefit. Patients are enthusiastic. They’re engaged in the process,” said MJ Perskie, vice president of marketing and business development for Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation.
Combined with conventional physical therapy, robotics are proving longer-lasting and farther-reaching results. Patients like Foti, who suffered from blood flowing to his spinal cord after a surgery, go through a carefully curated series of robotics, starting with a standing frame.
“From there they go to the Erigo where they’ll start to have their lower legs move and they can help that movement, as well as be in an upright, standing position,” said Jessica Cybulski, a physical therapist at Bacharach. “From there, they’ll go to the Lokomat where they have their lower extremities move for them, and again, assist in that walking motion.”
Eventually they move on their own with what’s called the Andago.
“The idea is the more I do this, the more I continue to improve the communication. And once I get past the communication blocks, there’s nothing to stop me from walking,” Foti said.
For 18-year-old Anthony Marquez, who injured his spine at a trampoline park, the interactive therapy with a Armeo robotic arm gives him extra motivation.
“When I get two stars it pushes me to get the third one, which is the highest you can get,” said Marquez.
A robot called Myro is like a life-size iPad where you have to match images. It’s all about cognitive rehabilitation and making sure it’s interactive and customized for each patient.
It’s helping patients recovering from stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord or other neurological impairments.
“I mean, I couldn’t move my shoulders at first to now being able to move my arms. It’s kind of crazy,” said Marquez.
Seeing him like that gives his mother, Lori Weed, hope.
“It does, a lot of hope, seeing him moving things that we thought he never would move before,” she said.
And setting sights higher than they’d thought before.