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Rehab system dangles patients below a robot


March 6, 2014

The Vector Gait and Safety System uses a track-mounted robotic trolley to keep patients from falling down

The Vector Gait and Safety System uses a track-mounted robotic trolley to keep patients from falling down

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When a patient is undergoing rehab for a condition that compromises their gait or sense of balance, the process certainly isn't helped by the constant worry that they might fall. In fact, even the caregivers themselves can be injured when trying to move patients around. That's why California-based rehabilitative tech firm Bioness developed its Vector Gait and Safety System. It involves suspending the patient below a robotic trolley, that moves with them to hold them up.

Patients using the system wear a harness, which incorporates two shoulder straps that are attached to an overhead bar. That bar in turn has a cable running from it to a winch in the trolley. Using a wireless control unit, therapists can use that winch to pull harness-wearing patients up out of their wheelchairs, into a comfortable standing position.

When they subsequently try to walk (or perform other activities), the trolley is able to sense their movements, and will automatically move along its ceiling-mounted conductive rail to stay above them. If therapists prefer, however, they can also manually control the trolley's movements, using it to guide the patient instead of following them.

Parameters such as body weight support and degree of fall protection can be saved as patient profiles for subsequent sessions, plus they can be tweaked as the treatment program progresses. Additionally, the Vector software saves a record of each session (including things like the number of times it had to save the patient from falling), so that patients' progress can be tracked over time.

The system can support up to 400 lb (181 kg) of static weight or 200 lb (91 kg) of dynamic weight, and is powered by one standard electrical outlet. It can be seen in use in the video below.

Source: Bioness

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

If this treatment really has any positive effects then it ought to be carried out on everyone in rehab for their own good.


@ ValerieP

Agreed. It is hardly going to cost that much and will probably pay for itself if treatment times can be reduced as a result.

Mel Tisdale
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