PHYSIO is excited to announce our partnership with Next Level Rehab Asheville, a mobile physical therapy and wellness company in Asheville that uses a robotic exoskeleton to improve their clients’ personal mobility and quality of life. Until now, this type of high-tech equipment has lived almost exclusively inside of a hospital setting. Next Level Rehab has changed that! Their clients can use the exoskeleton to stand, walk, and exercise in fitness centers, in public places like parks, and in the comfort of their own homes.
An exoskeleton is a pair of powerful robotic legs that are worn to help people with mobility issues walk again. It can be used for Rehabilitation to improve walking speed, endurance, step pattern, balance and confidence while walking. It can also be used as an Exercise & Wellness tool that allows somebody with permanent muscle weakness or paralysis to stand, walk, and bear weight through their legs, which can result in significant physical, emotional, and quality of life improvements. Using an exoskeleton for rehabilitation and wellness is safe and effective, and the results are backed by clinical research.
Robert McCloskey, PT, DPT and the Chief Care Officer at Next Level Rehab recently shared a few client stories with us. We hope this gives you an idea how powerful exoskeleton therapy can be.
Chablis was 19 years old when he sustained a spinal cord injury. He is 44 now. He says “I’ve spent more than half of my life sitting in a wheelchair. Standing and walking and using my legs again like this is amazing, it feels so new. It’s awesome exercise. I can feel the blood pumping in my legs. I’d use the exoskeleton every day if I could.”
Virginia was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1988. She uses a 4 wheeled walker to walk at home and in the community. She says “I can walk but I have a hard time lifting up my feet. It feels like I have a 20-pound weight attached to each foot. I’ve used the device just 3 times and now it feels like those 20-pound weights are only 3 pounds. It seemed to re-awaken my neural connections to bring back the normal walking gait my body was designed to do, but had lost over decades of having MS. I highly recommend trying this.”
Reggie was born with Cerebral Palsy and scoliosis. He primarily relies on the use of a power wheelchair for his mobility, but can walk short distances at home while using a cane. Since beginning physical therapy with the exoskeleton he says “I have noticed improvements in posture, gait alignment, endurance, strength, and flexibility. I am sincerely grateful and this has given me hope for a better quality of life as I grow older.”
Here is some basic information about who’s appropriate to use the exoskeleton.
Individuals with the following medical conditions may benefit from exoskeleton therapy:
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscle Weakness
- Deconditioning and Fatigue after COVID-19
Basic eligibility criteria for use of the exoskeleton include:
- Height: 5’1’’ to 6’4’’
- Weight: Less than 250 pounds
- Enough upper body strength to balance and advance an assistive device like a walker, crutches, or cane
- Spasticity: Modified Ashworth Score of 3 or less
- No wounds or skin integrity concerns at areas in contact with the exoskeleton
Our goal with this partnership is to help people in our community find greater mobility by connecting them with exoskeleton therapy available in Asheville. PHYSIO will continue providing exceptional care for people with a wide range of orthopedic and wellness needs. And, we’ll refer you to Next Level Rehab if we think you can benefit from exoskeleton therapy. Call us or ask your therapist for more information.