As science and technology continue to evolve, so has orthopedic rehabilitation. Scientists and medical professionals alike have significantly increased their education of orthotics, resulting in more rehab options. Some popular technologies in orthopedic rehabilitation include the following:
A four-piece device, the Bioness L300 was designed to send an electrical stimulation to the thigh and calf that helps the wearer move the leg. The four pieces are not connected at all. Instead, all communication is done wirelessly through a gait sensor attached to the shoe. The sensor reads when the heel is touching the ground, and sends a message to a leg cuff secured below the knee, and one attached to the thigh. The information received from the gait sensor helps provide internal electrodes that stimulate leg movement. This wireless control unit was also designed to give the wearer control over the electrode level for experience at their comfort level.
Originally created as a part of science fiction just decades ago, the Ekso Suit is now being used to help patients retrain their bodies. Strapped into the suit, a physical therapist can set the length and speed of steps a patient will take, and initiate this command through a computer. Eventually the patient will initiate their own steps using a button on the crutches, and then eventually by shifting body weight. Over time and with practice, the brain and body will learn to work together again, increasing both length and speed of steps.
Water aerobics is a great way to exercise and lose weight because it helps you target multiple muscle groups at one time. This is exactly what the underwater treadmill was designed for. It offers patients a low-impact way to exercise for less stress on bones, muscles and joints during rehabilitation. With the improvement in mobility, patients can also increase range of motion and speed in stride.
Designed almost 8 years ago, the Nintendo Wii is a very popular rehabilitation tool in orthopedic rehab centers. Patients seem to enjoy the active play encouraged by Wii games more than the traditional rehabilitation exercises. They can also compete with other rehab patients, nurses and family members which means they’ll use it more. The added fact of competition, which most people naturally enjoy, seems to show that most people try harder in rehab to overcome.
Thought-Controlled Bionic Leg
Developed by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in 2013, the thought-controlled bionic leg is still in early development. Through research and technology, scientists at the Institute have been able to make a huge leap in improving previous prosthetic legs. It reroutes nerves to healthy muscles and when the person wants to move the leg, electrical impulses are sent to those muscles. A computer chip implanted in the prosthetic leg reads the electrical impulses, and then directs the leg to move in a certain way. This form of technology gives the person a more natural walking experience.
Reference: Colen, P., 2014, July 8. 5 Breakthrough Technologies in Orthopedic Rehabilitation. Retrieved from http://healthworkscollective.com/philcohen4/175296/5-breakthrough-technologies-orthopedic-rehabilitation
Photo Credit: http://www.wired.com/2013/10/is-this-brain-controlled-bionic-leg-the-future-of-prosthetics/
Written by: Jamacia Magee, FizzNiche Staff Writer