Roper Rehabilitation Hospital's Center for Spinal Cord Injury is the first program in the state and one of only 22 other facilities nationally to offer the innovative ReWalk exoskeleton technology. This technology will allow Roper to conduct research with qualifying people with spinal cord injuries.
A break-through technology for people with spinal cord injuries is now available in the Lowcountry, and Roper St. Francis is pleased to announce the initiation of training on the Exoskeleton Technology - ReWalk™.
ReWalk is an exoskeleton mobility solution, which provides individuals with user-initiated mobility through the integration of a light wearable brace support suit, a computer-based control system and motion sensors. Using crutches for support, ReWalk allows walking, standing, sitting and the ability to turn.
Through a grant from the Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund (SCIRF), Roper Rehabilitation Hospital is bringing this innovative technology to the Lowcountry region, where there is a great need for SCI resources.
Once underway, the progress of ReWalk at Roper Rehabilitation Hospital's Center for Spinal Cord Injury will be used for the development of research in South Carolina.
"We recognize that there is a lack of resources in this area for those living with spinal cord injuries," said Jeffrey Tubbs, MD, a Roper Rehabilitation Hospital board certified physician in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation with a subspecialty board certification in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine. "We've made great strides in providing a Center that encompasses all aspects of spinal cord injury treatment and we're excited that this technology is now available here."
ReWalk is controlled by on-board computers and motion sensors, enabling user-initiated walking, and is battery-powered for all-day use. ReWalk controls movement using subtle changes in a person's center of gravity, and the device mimics natural gait and provides functional walking speed. The forward tilt of the upper body is sensed by a system which triggers a step; repeated shifts in body position generate a sequence of steps, which allows for natural and efficient walking and, if the patient is able, even climbing stairs.
"The exciting part from my perspective is that the device is un-tethered and doesn't involve a harness, which will help those who have some mobility to improve their gait," Dr. Tubbs said.
The ReWalk system provides many life-enhancing benefits, and the research will include the effects on bone density, bowel movement improvement, cardiorespiratory function, and decreases in pain and body fat.
"Technology like the ReWalk is the next generation of modern medical rehabilitation," said Cathy Therrell, director of Roper Rehabilitation Hospital. "As we continue to look for new ways to improve the quality of life for our patients, we are collecting data for future generations to build on. This is an exciting time for both Roper Rehabilitation Hospital and spinal cord injury healthcare."
Staff and patients at the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Clinic are currently training with the device and recorded research will begin later this year.
The Center for Spinal Cord Injury Clinic can be reached at (843) 724-2837.