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Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta becomes first pediatric hospital to use exoskeleton

By Tribune America
January 12, 2016

ATLANTA, Ga., USA: In an effort to remain a leading specialist in pediatric rehabilitation, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is the first pediatric hospital in the U.S. to offer patients enhanced neuro-rehabilitation services through the use of Ekso Bionics’ patented technology. Children’s Healthcare is incorporating Ekso — a wearable robot, or exoskeleton — into its Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitation to continue offering the latest technology to help children and teens recover from injuries or disorders that have hindered their motor skills.

The exoskeleton enables patients with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness to stand and walk with minimal assistance. Using motors and sensors, along with the patient’s assistance with balance and positioning, the exoskeleton allows the child to walk over ground with an efficient, repetitive gait pattern, helping the body re-learn proper step pattern and weight shifts. The exoskeleton can provide therapists with immediate feedback from each step the patient takes showing how much work the machine is doing verses how much work the child is doing.

“Neuroplasticity is the adaptive capacity of the central nervous system to respond to repeated changes in stimuli, which it may do by reorganizing its structure, function or neural connections,” said Joshua Vova, M.D., medical director of rehabilitation services, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “In effect, it can help patients recovering from stroke, brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries to learn to walk again, with a proper gait pattern which may help to minimize compensatory behaviors.”

Physical and Occupational Therapists at Children’s Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitation use technology to help children and teens perform important repetitive movements in different ways. This can help children with impairments build strength and coordination. It can also allow the therapists to work with patients on skills he or she may not be able to perform otherwise. Research shows that therapy with repetitive and random patterns helps the brain and spinal cord work together increasing strength, coordination, function and independence.

“We are excited to work with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to offer leading treatment options for many patients who best benefit from technology assisted therapy. Neurorehabilitation and the increasing importance of neuroplasticity is key to regaining as much of a person’s abilities as possible and improving functional outcome, and it’s a significant measure of our success to be a part of that,” said Nate Harding, CEO and co-founder of Ekso Bionics. “Working together with Children’s is a reflection of our shared commitment to augment human capability.”

(Source: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta)


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