I Want to Walk Again - Jan 2014 - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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January 2014 Update:
"I Want to Walk Again"

Walking Solutions for Varied Patient Abilities

RIC Walking Care

Walking is a primary goal for many of our patients and the integrated team of doctors, therapists and researchers here at RIC. The combination and implementation of results-based therapies and innovative technologies enable us to improve walking capacity and endurance across a broad spectrum of patients.

The Lokomat®, available in both adult and pediatric models, provides the greatest amount of support to patients unable to walk or move their legs. This robotic device controls the pace of walking and measures the body’s response to the movement. Our therapies have shown that this assisted, repetitive walking pattern helps the brain and spinal cord work together to re-route signals that were impaired by injury or illness.

Recovery and rehabilitation for patients that have some ability to move their legs but can’t walk often includes utilization of our anti-gravity track and treadmill. The goal is to maximize the number of steps a patient takes each day, challenging them to take thousands vs. the typical 400 at other rehabilitation centers. This approach, when applicable to the needs of an individual patient, has proven successful and our patients are making greater improvements at a more rapid pace.

In addition, the Walk-Assist and WalkAide have contributed to patient progress and strength. Honda R&D selected RIC exclusively to test, track, and monitor outcomes of the Walk-Assist with patients who have experienced a mild-to-medium stroke. This compact, computerized device (worn around the hips) continually gathers personalized information to help improve the symmetry and timing of leg lift and extension, promoting a longer stride and easier walking. The WalkAide (worn around the calf) stimulates existing nerve pathways and provides greater range of motion than a traditional ankle foot orthosis and is used for patients with foot drop due to trauma, stroke or other brain disease, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.

Walter Affable, CP, Clinical Operations Manager of RIC’s Prosthetic and Orthotics Clinical Center believes RIC’s integrated approach is what makes a difference, “You can visit a Certified Orthotist elsewhere, but you won’t get as comprehensive an evaluation and treatment plan, or the opportunity to participate in a two-week home assessment period. Our multidisciplinary approach also offers stronger justification and outcomes data when appealing an insurance denial.”

RIC's Clinical Gait Analysis Laboratory

RIC Walking Research

One of the most effective ways to quantify walking deficiencies and find the right solutions is through gait analysis. RIC is one of the only hospitals in the Chicago area and the US that can provide this assessment in our Motion Analysis Center (MAC) for both adult and pediatric patients.

The MAC opened in 1989 and has been a leader in clinical motion analysis since then. The laboratory is dedicated to providing the highest quality clinical service while continuing to further the field of human motion analysis.

Our lab analyzes the walking pattern or upper extremity movement of children and adults with a range of movement disorders. We use specialized cameras and computer technology to capture muscle activity, joint motion and forces, and pressures while walking.

We conduct 10-20 trials, consisting of walking the length of a 10-m walkway. The walkway has sensors measuring the force with which the foot strikes the ground. For children or adults on whom we cannot place the reflective markers, we can still evaluate their gait in less detail using a carpet with embedded sensors

Computerized models then digitize these activities so that we can analyze the patterns, effectively evaluate the disorders, and recommend an integrated clinical and scientific course of treatment.

For more information or an appointment, call 312-238-1447.

RIC Academy's Gait Analysis Courses and More

RIC Walking Education

This past December, RIC held a course entitled, “Pediatric Gait Analysis: A Segmental Kinematic Approach to Orthotic Management,” intended primarily for pediatric physical therapists and orthotists. This course gave a new approach to the analysis of normal standing, stepping, and gait and the management of gait disorders. The biomechanics of normal gait and the pathological gaits of disabling conditions such as cerebral palsy, myelomenigocoele, and other neurological conditions were examined.

Participants learned orthotic management, including the biomechanics of ankle foot orthoses (AFO), the influence of footwear, varieties of AFO footwear combination design, refining, aligning and tuning that design to optimize gait, and extensive video examples. Patient discussion in small and large groups helped participants refine their clinical decision-making skills involved in gait analysis and orthotic design. A sequel to this course, Advanced Pediatric Gait Analysis, will be offered April 3-4, 2014. This course continues the in-depth analysis of AFO footwear combination design to optimize gait. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss videos and live patient demonstrations, and the surrounding clinical decision making in gait analysis and orthotic design. Register here.

Prior to that, in February, the RIC Academy presents its Cognitive-Perceptual Series which includes “Cognitive-Perceptual Assessments: A Function-Based Approach” and “Adult Onset Apraxia and Neglect Syndromes: An Overview.More information and registration here.

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