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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Talking technology: The Lokomat

November 09, 2020

When recovering from serious injury or debilitating illness, therapists at Madonna may incorporate specialized technology into a patient’s care plan. Not only does Madonna provide access to state-of-the-art rehabilitative technology, our therapists are experts in how to incorporate, modify and utilize these tools to challenge patients at various levels of recovery.

One key piece of technology Madonna care teams use for patients of varying conditions and ability levels is the Lokomat by Hocoma. This robotic treadmill training system uses a body weight support system to suspend individuals while their legs are attached to robotic legs that assist with basic walking functions. The design allows patients to safely get up into a standing posture and walking motion while also decreasing the risk of injury to the therapist.

Depending on the severity of a patient’s injury or illness, the goal of the Lokomat aims at improving a patient’s arousal and/or the ability for the patient to walk more independently over-ground. 

Physical therapy clinical director of Madonna’s Omaha Campus, Cali Carlson, PT, DPT, has introduced the Lokomat to some of Madonna’s most severely injured patients, including patients with traumatic injury (TBI) who may fall into the disorders of consciousness (DoC) spectrum.

“The Lokomat is useful for TBI/DoC patients because it is a safe way to get the patient upright and use a walking motion to increase arousal, proprioceptive input to the limbs and to increase muscle activation by getting them in a weight bearing position,” Carlson said.

The repetition of a walking motion provided by the Lokomat to TBI patients—and to patients recovering from incomplete spinal cord injury, debilitating illness, stroke or other injuries—increases muscle activation by essentially remapping the electric signals sent from the muscles to the brain. As a patient progresses, so does the level of difficulty in several different ways: through the amount of body weight support provided, the speed of the treadmill, the amount of assistance each leg orthosis is guiding the patient and the use of augmented performance feedback. 

“The augmented performance feedback is essentially biofeedback through the use of a game,” Carlson said. “The therapist can adjust the biofeedback settings to make the game settings easier or harder.” 

When used correctly, and with the expertise of Madonna’s clinical staff, the Lokomat can result in great gains for patients in a rehabilitative setting.