James Walrath, SPT
Physical Therapy Intern
During my time at TLC I have had numerous opportunities to use an exciting and unique piece of equipment; the Zero G dynamic body weight support system by Aretech, LLC. The Zero G is an electronically controlled winch connected to a harness for the individual on one end and onto a mono-rail track running across the ceiling on the other. The Zero G is able to make it easier for individuals who have muscle weakness to walk upright without having to support their entire body weight. What the system does is provide support either based on a person’s weight or for a specific amount as controlled by the therapist, making it easier for that person to walk across the floor. For instance, if I wanted to help a patient who weighed 200 pounds to stand up for the first time, I might un-weight 30% of their body weight (60 pounds) using the Zero G system. While systems similar to this have been used for years on treadmills, what makes the Zero G system unique is that is allows this system to be used when walking across solid ground. While that may not initially seem like a big difference, when a person is learning to walk again after a brain injury the difference between a walking on a treadmill and walking over ground is huge.
What the Zero G also allows me to do is provide support and safety to an individual who would not otherwise be able to walk safely on his or her own. The system has a built in safety mechanism that prevents any patient using it from “falling” more than a few inches from an upright standing position, never in danger of falling to the floor. It allows the patient to feel comfortable about attempting to stand and walk, perhaps for the first time in months. It also affords the therapist the freedom to observe movement patterns and facilitate changes without concern about the patient falling. Because I am able to input exactly how much support the system gives, it allows me record exactly how much support a patient needs and show in a very specific way how someone’s ability to stand and walk is improving.
In short, the Zero G is like the perfect second set of hands that allows the therapists at TLC the freedom to perform walking exercises with patients that wouldn’t normally be able to walk and allows the patients to feel confident while doing so. This gives patients the opportunity to practice walking over solid ground earlier, to understand how much progress they have made, and to hopefully recover faster.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org