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Initiative to Support New Technology

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Healthwire Update: Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center seeks to add new therapeutic equipment to advance patient care.

By Sara Baxter

A hallmark of Shepherd Center”s rehabilitation care has been staying abreast of advances in therapeutic equipment.

But it”s not enough to keep up with what”s current – Shepherd also makes every effort to provide patients with new technologies that support their goals for recovery and independence.

Three such innovative technologies are the centerpiece of a $400,000 fundraising initiative that started this past fall. When complete, the campaign will fund the purchase of new equipment that has been tested and evaluated by patients and staff. It will enable Shepherd patients to:

”   #use a non-robotic device to participate in upper-limb therapy while interacting with real-life activities on a computer;

”   #strengthen gait, balance and endurance by walking overground along a defined path while supported by a harness attached to an overhead rail system; and

”   #improve cardiovascular health and lower-limb muscle strength and activity while fully supported in more upright positions earlier in the recovery process.

Here”s more on each of the three technologies Shepherd hopes to implement.

Therapy meets the computer age. Hocoma”s Armeo#Spring is an arm exoskeleton that marries a therapy device to a computer-simulated, virtual reality environment. After placing an arm in a support system with a handgrip, the user ventures beyond repetitive back-and-forth motions to practice everyday tasks, such as putting fruit into a basket or eggs into a frying pan. The machine also offers motion-sensor video games, making therapy potentially more engaging to people of all ages.

“The patient has to generate the movement, and the arm is controlling what is going on in the computer,”# explains Kathy Farris, therapy manager for Shepherd”s Acquired Brain Injury Unit. “It simulates real-life activities and gives the patient visual feedback and immediate task satisfaction.”#

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