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Robot Helps Paralyzed Patients Move Again


Dallas Lab Only One In Texas Featuring ‘Lokomat’

DALLAS — Paralyzed patients in North Texas are learning to walk again at a very unique spinal cord injury lab in Dallas that utilizes breakthrough robotic technology.

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is the only medical facility in Texas using “Lokomat,” a robot that assists physical therapists in patient Rehabilitation.

Lokomat teaches patients to walk again by assisting them through the walking motion.

A related computer records each step, allowing the patient and therapist to track progress.

“This type of technology has the potential to improve their ability to walk over ground, and provide a quality of life they may not have from the wheelchair,” Dr. Patricia Winchester said. The repetition, the sensory input and the determination are already paying off for many patients, including Chuck Benefield (pictured, left).

The 50-year-old was severely injured in a motorcycle accident one year ago.

“I was paralyzed, pretty much, from the chest down,” he said. “It’s just devastating at first … but then you’ve got to look at it from a positive standpoint.”

A positive attitude and working out with the robot three times a week is helping the former Southern Methodist University quarterback make progress in his recovery.

In fact, with the help of his walker and therapis ts, Benefield took some baby steps last week. And with his type of spinal cord injury, Benefield has hope of restoring some mobility.

“In a short period of time of two months, [Lokomat] has trained me to do something I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do,” he said.

Meantime, researchers are recruiting patients with spinal-cord injuries to participate in studies involving the new technology.

Those interested in participating can use the resources below to contact program administrators.

E-mail: scilab@utsouthwestern.edu
On The Phone: (214) 648-0788
Copyright 2004 by nbc5i.com.

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