Locomotor Training: A Step in the Direction?By Rucker, Allen; New Mobility,
Publication Date: August 2009
Article features locomotor training (LT), a physical therapy aimed at restoring walking ability in people with spinal cord injury (SCI). LT is based on the theory that mechanisms in the spinal cord defined as special pattern generators could, through a complex set of reflexes, initiate walking without input from the brain. The therapy is reported to work best for patients with incomplete SCI, who have some motor or sensory response to help generate the special patterns. Equipment used for LT comprises a treadmill and full body harness, calibrated and controlled by a computer program operated by a trainer. The patient is strapped into the harness and the paralyzed legs are guided at calculated degrees of weight-bearing to simulate repetitive walking on the treadmill. LT is offered at seven NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) rehabilitation centers across the U.S. NRN, which was founded by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, is tracking about 270 patients at the centers to collect empirical evidence of the effectiveness of the therapy. Two potential downsides of LT mentioned are the rigorous nature and length of time of the treatment, which can take years to show results, and the uncertain outcome. Although the costly therapy is often covered by insurance when received at the NRN rehab centers, at one of two community based fitness centers associated with NRN, Next Step in suburban Los Angeles, reimbursement reportedly was received in only one claim. The article includes a link to a YouTube video of a LT client at Next Step stepping with a walker.
Published by: No Limits Communications Inc. (Website:http://www.newmobility.com)
Link to text: http://www.newmobility.com/articleViewIE.cfm?id=11470
Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnrfgZhjlSg