Stationary equipment vs LegMaker in Physical Therapy

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Abbie Klein PT, DPT, Physical Therapist at a local hospital working with patient in Acute Care and the Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit. Received Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2016 and have been working at her current job since graduation. 

Strokes, also knowns as cerebrovascular accidents, or CVA, are caused by either a clot

or a bleed in the brain. They can affect approximately 3% of the adult population with around

800,000 strokes occurring in the USA in a given year. Although there are medical interventions

that can help improve the outlook of a stroke if performed early, such as “clot busting”

medications or surgery to remove the clot, there is a narrow window in which they can be safely

performed. Without interventions, a person who has a stroke is often left with functional deficits

which can include:

Trouble speaking

Muscle weakness which typically affects one side of the body and can varying from mild

weakness to complete paralysis (loss of movement)

Numbness or tingling

Difficulty Swallowing

Impaired Vision

Headaches

Confusion

Dizziness

After the patient has been stabilized they typically transfer from a hospital to a rehab unit to

receive ongoing Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. The patient will

spend several hours each day working on addressing their functional deficits. Rehabilitation

stays can be as short as a week, or can last up to several months, which depends on the

severity of the person’s symptoms and how quickly they recover. They will then follow up with

Outpatient therapy where the patient will come into a clinic several times per week to work with

their therapists to continue progressing their strength and independence in order to reach their

goals.

Throughout their recovery, patients will typically receive intensive therapies focused on

recovering strength and function, or compensatory strategies in cases restoration of function is

not possible. For some individuals, that can mean that the person is unable to walk without help,

and may need a wheelchair to safely negotiate their environment in order to return home.

Although improvement have been made to wheelchairs since their invention, they still leave

something to be desired in their bulkiness and ability to navigate smaller environments, as well

as needing to transfer out of the wheelchair to complete certain therapies/interventions. These

effects can be compounded by the limited time available dedicated to their therapy team. In an

“ideal" situation a patient recover on an inpatient rehab unit, spending 3 hours a day between

therapy disciplines. This amounts to just 12% of their day. Meaning that the remaining 88% of

their day is spent on their own, outside of a therapy setting. People need a better way to

continue to work on and improve their strength outside of a traditional therapy setting.

This is what LegMaker’s goal is. As an FES bike it works to exercise the muscle that patients

are unable to activate on their own. This helps with strength and mobility, but also improves

circulation and can help to lessen uncomfortable spams that might occur in the person’s legs.

This is combined with the technology to attach to a wheelchair to make it possible to use this

technology wherever the patient is. Unlike traditional stationary equipment, they have the option

to work out wherever they are, meaning they can keep strengthening and working on improving

their quality of life outside of a single therapy session. This will benefit the patient as they are

able to make better use of the 88%, or more, of their time that is spent outside of therapy. The

benefits of giving the patient increased control and independence with their therapy will not only

include the obvious physical benefits of exercises, but also will help to improve the mental

health and mood of these individuals who are able to be more self sufficient and independent in

their everyday lives.