Quadriplegic man dances with his wife in the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System

Source: NBC News

When Lauren Jackson married her quadriplegic husband in 2013, she told him, “When you can walk, I want you to dance with me.”

It was more a dream than anything. Joel Jackson had not been expected to survive the 2009 car wreck that separated his spine from his head, let alone get out of a wheelchair.

But that wish came true.

A couple weeks ago, Lauren and Joel, both 26, shared an impromptu moment swaying to their wedding song, Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be,” at a rehabilitation hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.

Joel, suspended from the ZeroG Gait and Balance System, looked into his wife’s eyes — the only way he can communicate with her.


VIDEO of the Jackson’s Dance in ZeroG


She looked up at him. “My goodness, you’re so tall,” she said.

Lauren kissed Joel. Their eyes met. They danced.

Everyone else in the Brooks Rehabilitation therapy room stopped what they were doing to watch the young couple, who have known each other since childhood but reconnected after his accident. Several wept.

“Euphoric,” recalled Joel, who spoke to NBC News with the help of a computer.

Before wrapping her arms around her husband, Lauren handed her phone to an intern at the rehab center, who recorded them. She posted the video on her blog, where she documents their journey.

“The little things mean so much to us,” Lauren said.

Lauren and Joel have known each other since they were 14. They met during a church event in Anderson County, South Carolina. There was an immediate spark, and they became close. But they gradually drifted apart.In December 2009, Joel and five other young people got into a car with a drunk driver, who hit a telephone pole. A 15-year-old girl died, and Joel, 20 then, was thrown from the car. The impact shattered his spine where it connects to his skull — an “internal decapitation” that few people survive.

“People don’t live through C1 injuries,” said Bob McIver, manager of Brooks Rehabilitation’s Neuro Recovery Center, referring to the vertebrae closest to the head. “Kids sometimes do. At his age, it’s fatal in matter of seconds.”

At the time, Lauren had not seen Joel since high school graduation. She went to visit him. His jaw had been broken in the wreck and hadn’t been repaired, so he could not speak — a condition that never improved.

In late 2012, they began dating — movies, mostly. He proposed a few months later through a video that friends helped produce. They were married in September 2013, Joel mouthing “I do.” At the reception, Joel’s father lifted Lauren onto Joel’s lap as “I’ll Be” played.

Jacksons wedding day













“But I told him, ‘When you can talk, I want to renew our vows. And when you can walk, I want you to dance with me,'” Lauren said.

She put her career on hold to care for him. They developed an intricate but efficient method of communicating, in which Lauren moves through the alphabet and Joel signals with his eyes the letters he wants to use. Joel also took up painting by holding the brushes in his mouth; he sells his work online.

Lauren tried to find Joel rehabilitative services. His spinal injury was “incomplete,” meaning that he could feel things and had a bit of movement. But no one they saw had worked with a patient with a C1 injury. They were turned down everywhere they went.

“He believed there was nothing else that could be done for him,” Lauren said.

Frustrated, they moved to Florida with Joel’s father, who works for Lowe’s and put him on his insurance plan. Joel also receives coverage under Medicaid and Medicare.

Lauren began the search all over again. A neurologist referred them to Brooks Rehabilitation. It took months for Joel to trust the physical therapists, who wanted to put him on a regimen to strengthen his body and circulatory system. They also wanted to figure out why Joel still could not speak.

“As someone who’d never had any physical therapy, we don’t have any idea of what his potential is, what he is hiding,” McIver said.

On Oct. 1, Joel’s therapists asked if they could put him in the device called ZeroG that allows patients to stand upright while allowing their legs to support a small amount of their body weight. Joel, using his eyes, signaled that he agreed. Lauren, who typically records all of Joel’s rehab regimens, looked away to read a text message. When she turned back, Joel was up.

She thought of her wish. “Hey, Joel, do you want to dance?” she said.

McIver found a recording of “I’ll Be” and piped it into the gym’s speakers. Joel met her gaze to tell her he was ready. They moved together, Lauren holding him and smiling, Joel looking at her intently.

“Everyone applauded at the end,” McIver said. “There were lots of tear-filled eyes.”

After being told for years not to expect a life beyond a wheelchair, there was hope.

Joel has continued to regain strength and body movement, McIver said.

“That little step that got him something he wanted, and he looks at what’s the next thing he can do,” he said.

Joel’s gains have motivated the couple to try to buy a home and develop an event planning business. They’ve appealed to supporters to donate to their “home fund,” offering Joel’s paintings as gifts.

“For two years we’ve lived without an income, so we have to get creative,” Lauren said.

She credits Joel for inspiring her. He tells her, “Anything is possible through love.”

Kessler Foundation uses the Aretech ZeroG Gait and Balance System to advance research

Source: Globenewswire

The Kessler Foundation acquired the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System to advance their rehabilitation research for people with disabilities. ZeroG will be used in research by Kessler to help explore new ways to help individuals function more independently at home, the community and in the workplace. ZeroG, a robotic body-weight support system mounted in an overhead track, allows individuals to engage in rehabilitative activities safely and independently.


ZeroG compliments the other technological resources scientists at Kessler are using and will provide real-time data for mobility research. People of various ages, weight and diagnoses can use the ZeroG for many types of functional activities. Participants can safely sit, stand, squat, climb stairs, use an exercise ball and run up to six miles per hour. In ZeroG, they can walk over ground, on a treadmill or in an exoskeleton, without the fear of falling. Via a wireless interface, the device provides real-time data for mobility research, including distance, speed and duration of walking, levels of body-weight support and falls prevented. Activity can be monitored via ZeroG’s touchscreen or a mobile phone or tablet.


Kessler Foundation is using ZeroG Version 2, which is more compact and has a higher weight capacity—a maximum of 400 pounds. Version 2 also provides biofeedback to challenge individuals physically and cognitively. A high-resolution display screen features interactive games and target matching activities such as breaking blocks and bobbing and weaving to avoid objects, which increase motivation and encourage participation.


The Kessler Foundation is a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network has immediate success with ZeroG

Source: Advance PT

Sue Golden, PT, NCS Director of Neurorehabilitation Technologies at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network in Allentown, PA is interviewed by Advance magazine on the immediate impact ZeroG made to their therapy program.

“We see patients here with stroke, spinal cord injury, head injury, vestibular issues, concussion, multiple sclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s, movement disorders, really anything neurologic, as well as amputations,” said Golden. The facility implemented the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System in December and saw immediate positive results.

“All of the programs that we develop here are based on neuroplasticity,” Golden explained. “We feel if you attack function from all angles, you give a person the best chance of recovery, no matter what that recovery might be. “You can determine how much weight you’re going to take off patients, as well as specify if you only want them to move in a certain parameter, for example to work on side-stepping or weight-shifting. Or you can open up the entire track and allow people to walk with or without a device. Again, we’re looking at the challenge of balance, proprioception, integrating vision, and the alignment for gait.”

ZeroG can be used for patients with stroke at lower or higher levels of function, added Golden. “You can work the core through lunges, treat patients with amputations, take a patient with incomplete spinal cord injury either with braces or without braces who might be starting a motor-control program. You can pre-gait, emphasizing sit-to-stand, and really focus on helping a patient become weight-bearing through an affected leg.”

ZeroG getting to standing

Golden has utilized the apparatus with a fairly severe stroke patient who tends to push frequently. “We were able to take away his assistive device because he wasn’t likely to fall, and we only allowed the tether to go a certain length so it would catch him if he did,” she said. “So he started taking steps while holding my hand and receiving directions on weight-shifting. He really began to trust his affected leg and walked the most he has since his stroke.”

Golden also recalled the success of the first patient who the therapy staff at Good Shepherd placed in ZeroG. “She’s in her early 20s and a couple years removed from sustaining her head injury. Since the accident, she hadn’t been able to stand on one foot. But within a couple minutes on ZeroG, she did and was just all giggles and smiles, saying ‘I can’t believe I can do this!'”

Treatment sessions at Good Shepherd typically last an hour, with about 45 minutes spent in ZeroG. “If patients need to sit down intermittently, we’ll have them do that in the harness,” Golden related. “And mind you, neither therapist was sweating today while we worked with the stroke patient. That was amazing, because I treated this man once by myself without ZeroG and I was definitely perspiring.”

“I think the equipment has been a wonderful addition,” Golden added. “We’re trying to promote function through every avenue, at every level for every person, while keeping them safe. To really increase their repetitions of being upright and moving. I believe this equipment is a great complement to our treatment, another tool in our toolbox to help people.”

Good Shepherd Logo square

Motor learning strategies applied to neurorehabilitation

Source:  Kessler Foundation

Dr. Joe Hidler, CEO of Aretech and inventor of the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System discusses the research he and colleagues have done which has served as the catalyst as to why ZeroG was developed. This podcast was hosted by the Northern New Jersey Spinal Injury System with support from the National Institute on disability and Rehabilitation Research. US Department of Education grant H133N110020.

Dr. Hidler explains that one of his favorite quotes in relation to motor learning comes from John Krakauer, M.A., M.D., “Rehabilitation needs to emphasis techniques that promote the formation of an appropriate internal model and not just the repetition of movements.”  Dr. Hidler describes how movements occur using internal model formations which start at birth and continue into adulthood. How does this work in stroke patients who have been using their internal models their entire life which now no longer are appropriate? Everything changes so now there is inefficient motor control.

Error signals are very important in the learning process. The variability of tasks and the task variability in the acquisition phase is very important and improves performance in subsequent sessions in the generalizing of learning new tasks. The ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System differs from other robotic rehabilitation systems which move the limbs for the patient. ZeroG builds on the basics of motor learning and motor control strategies to help progress patients while learning variability of tasks.

Aretech to showcase ZeroG at APTA-CSM

Source: PR Web

Aretech is showcasing Version 2 of the ZeroG Gait and Balance System at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana February 4-7. ZeroG contains many unique features, not found in similar systems which present a significant advancement to therapists in the treatment options for their patients in gait, balance and practicing functional activities.

Aretech’s ZeroG is the only robotic overground system using dynamic body-weight support that has interactive balance programs with biofeedback, interactive games played through movements, dynamic fall recovery, treadmill integration and custom harnesses with shaping handles.


Advantages of Using ZeroG

  •     Safely treat the widest range of patients, with the widest range of diagnoses, across the widest range of activities.
  •     Patients can safely begin their walking therapy early after neurological and orthopedic injuries, with early and intensive therapy being the most effective at promoting recovery.
  •     Therapy intensity can be modulated with dynamic body-weight support.
  •     Biofeedback motivates and cues patients.
  •     Lowers the risk of injury to patients and therapists.
  •     A single therapist can train even the largest, most impaired patients.
  •     Functional activities such as obstacle avoidance, sit-to-stand, floor transfers and stairs can be practiced safely.
  •     Monitor and track performance and functional progress.

ZeroG has the highest performance, safety and quality in its class with new features to help patients in achieving optimal recovery outcomes.

Good Shepherd adds ZeroG to their Health & Technology Center

Source: Mcall

Velcro straps made a ripping sound Monday morning as physical therapists refitted a harness around Stella Price.

The harness, similar to the kind used by rock climbers, was attached to a pulley system mounted to a track in the ceiling. And, once snug around Price’s torso and legs, it gently pulled her out of her wheelchair and up to her feet for the first time since July, when she suffered a debilitating stroke.

If the 67-year-old Allentown resident’s legs were unsteady, her wide smile was not.

“She likes it here. Here, they make her do stuff,” Price’s daughter, Shana Allen, said of the Good Shepherd Health & Technology Center in Allentown. “She feels motivated. Before, she was doing nothing. Now she wants to get up. She wants to walk.”

The harness and ceiling track system, called the ZeroG, is one of the new pieces of state-of-the-art equipment in Good Shepherd’s expanded neuro and orthopedic outpatient rehabilitation facility, which opened last week.

Price was just the second person to use the ZeroG. Meanwhile, just behind her, another patient, Amitkumar Patel, was stepping along the new Zeno Walkway — a floor pad filled with pressure sensors.

Patel, recovering from a brain aneurysm, then watched a video replay on a computer monitor. “Look at your right knee,” physical therapist Nicole Smith said to him. Then she pointed to the accompanying color-coded computer graphic of his footsteps. “Can you see how your toe is pointing out more than the other one?” she said. “This time we’re going to try it without a cane.”
The expanded neuro and orthopedic facility is situated in a part of the hospital that had been used for assistive technology. Assistive technology was relocated to another area that had been office space.

Also part of the expanded facility are a 500-square-foot gym for physical therapy-based Pilates, a private space for women’s health services and two additional vision therapy rooms to help patients with visual coordination problems that affect balance.

All of the services and technology at Good Shepherd are designed to help people regain basic abilities and everyday skills, explained Vice President Frank Hyland. “We’re all about function,” he said.

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, was founded in 1908. Today, in addition to its main hospital in south Allentown, it operates 22 outpatient sites, four inpatient sites, two long-term care homes for people with severe disabilities, an independent living facility and a long-term acute care hospital within Lehigh Valley Health Network-Muhlenberg in Bethlehem. It also has a partnership with Penn Medicine, through which it serves the Philadelphia area.

The expanded neuro and orthopedic facility also offers much-needed space for use of Ekso robotic exoskeletons, said Hyland, who is also a physical therapist.

The Ekso fits around a person’s body and limbs and, using a combination of manual control and automatic sensors, allows wheelchair users to stand up and walk. A computer interprets the instructions and orchestrates every step with the use of motors that make the mechanism work like a smart robot.

Because the Ekso puts the body in a natural, upright biomechanical position, repeated use can allow some people suffering from partial paralysis to relearn how to stand upright and even walk on their own, according to Hyland, who said he is seeing patients make progress that was unimaginable just a few years ago.

“This is not an end product. This is a tool,” Hyland said of the Ekso, on which Good Shepherd has logged more than 1 million steps — more than any other rehabilitation facility in the world.

Patients at Children’s Specialized Hospital Use ZeroG for Optimal Recovery Outcomes

Source: Childrens Specialized

Pediatric patients recovering from a spinal cord injury, brain injury or stroke at Children’s Specialized Hospital now have access to ZeroG, cutting edge balance and gait training system that helps patients to walk again. Here at Children’s Specialized Hospital, we include ZeroG in our intensive pediatric rehabilitation hospital program, making us one of only two children’s hospitals in the country to offer the device.

The ZeroG is our newest addition to our therapy program, but our highly skilled team utilizes many other treatments for children with spinal cord dysfunction, stroke and brain injury.

Our outcomes and recovery rate for our brain injury, spinal cord and stroke patients far surpass the national average of similar institutions.  According to 2013 pediatric functional independence measure (WeeFIM).

  • Stroke and spinal cord injury patients had a significantly more successful recovery than the average outcomes of similar facilities nationwide
  • Stroke: average change rate score of 58.1% vs 34.9%.
  • Spinal cord: average change rate score of 55.3% vs 33.9%
  • Traumatic brain injury patients have significantly more successful recovery rates than national average of similar
  • Change rate scores 83.6% vs. 64.3% national average, a 19.3% difference

More About ZeroG
The dynamic body weight support harness provides training for standing, sitting, and walking. It is used for a wide range of patients with all levels of acquired, traumatic, and congenital spinal cord dysfunction, including children with:

  • Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Stroke and spinal stroke
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Paralysis
  • Incomplete spinal cord injury

There are many benefits to training with ZeroG:

  • Patients can begin physical therapy earlier in their treatment, a factor associated with enhanced outcomes.
  • The body-weight device allows for partial compensation of spasticity, abnormal coordination, and weakness.
  • There is nothing on the floor, so patients can practice on stairs and uneven ground, train for sit-to-stand motions, and use assistive devices if necessary.
  • The device offers security, so patients may not develop compensatory strategies.
  • Therapists can assess and track a patient’s recovery.

Additional therapy treatments may include:

  • FES cycling
  • Upper and lower extremity electrical stimulation
  • Custom bracing (some with built-in electrical stimulation)
  • Treadmill training

Each patient’s treatment plan combines a vigorous rehabilitation program with comprehensive medical and nursing care.

Of course, we understand that dealing with a spinal cord injury can be a stressful ordeal, even with the best care. So, to help our patients adjust as they recover from their injury, the team also provides community integration trips, school visits, and home evaluations to ensure a smooth transition to home and school.

ZeroG helps this young man realize his dream of walking

Source: WBRZ

Baton Rouge Rehab Hospital is using the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System to revolutionize rehab for amputees.

Jeremiah Foster was born with underdeveloped arms and legs. As he grew, his legs had trouble supporting him. Then he found out he had arthritis in his legs. At age 13, Jeremiah decided to have his legs amputated so he could walk again. He struggled with rehab for years.

Now at 18, Jeremiah can walk with confidence, on his new legs. He says it happened after getting to use the ZeroG system. It’s the only one in Louisiana.

Baton Rouge Amputee 2

“I’ve only been three feet tall my whole life so this since September is really a jump for me so not only that the height but also I don’t have any arms to catch me if I fall so there’s nothing really to protect me or anything like that I just hit the ground so with the harness that really helps out a lot,” said Foster.

Foster says ZeroG takes away the fear, allowing him to strengthen his legs, and learn to walk. “I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I can go places, if someone wants me to go with them grocery shopping, or shopping for clothes, or anything, I can wear jeans now, I couldn’t before,” Foster explained.


Aretech Releases ZeroG Version 2

Aretech announced today it has released Version 2 (V.2) of the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System, which was unveiled last week at the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting in Las Vegas, NV. ZeroG V.2 has the same safety, quality and proven performance1 as the previous version of ZeroG with added innovative features which are the first of their kind in the rehabilitation field. Some of the new features include an anticipatory balance program with biofeedback, the integration of Google GlassTM, larger patient capacity, a smaller and more responsive trolley that supports higher walking speeds, tools for researchers, expanded data recording and enhanced treadmill integration.

About the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System

ZeroG, invented by Aretech CEO, Dr. Joe Hidler, provides patients dynamic body-weight support as they practice walking, balance activities, and other Activities of Daily Living with simultaneous fall protection. With fully integrated Woodway treadmill controls in the ZeroG software, patients can also practice treadmill-based gait training. ZeroG monitors important information at more than 1,000 times per second, so that if a fall is detected, the system can safely catch the patient. And because its trolley rides on a customized ceiling track, there are no barriers between the therapist and the patient. This truly encourages patient-therapist interaction. With a press of a button on a touchscreen computer or wirelessly on a Google NexusTM tablet, therapists can adjust the amount of body-weight support, fall distance, and other parameters in order to modulate the intensity and complexity of each training session. Aretech’s ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System is listed with the Food and Drug Administration and is certified to safety standard IEC 60601-1, 3rd edition.

ZeroG exercise band

Advantages of Using ZeroG

  • Patients can safely begin their walking therapy early after neurological and orthopedic injuries, with early and intensive therapy being key factors related to the recovery of walking in neurological injuries2.
  • The system provides the highest level of safety to the patient, removing the potential for a fall. ZeroG also reduces the risk of injuries to therapists.
  • Balance activities with biofeedback can be practiced safely with fall protection and dynamic body-weight support.
  • A single therapist can train even the largest, most impaired patients.
  • Since the system is ceiling mounted, subjects can practice obstacles such as stairs and uneven terrain, practice sit to stand tasks, and can use assistive devices.
  • ZeroG records training parameters such as patient walking distance, number of falls prevented, min & max body-weight support, and many others. This information can be used to track a patient’s recovery.
  • With fully integrated Woodway treadmill controls, therapists can control all aspects of the training session through a single touch screen interface and can monitor treadmill training parameters such as distance walked, treadmill speed and more.

ZeroG technology at Froedtert helps patients develop confidence

Source: Fox 6

Imagine having a headache, and the next thing you know you are in the hospital, having to learn basics like walking again. That’s the reality Joan Schacht woke up to.

“Everything’s changed now,” said Joan Schacht. Just a few weeks ago, Joan was an active 68 year old woman, used to doing everything on her own. But then in an instant everything changed. “Next thing I know I am in the hospital and I woke up and my head was all cut open,” said Joan. She woke up at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin and was told she had had a stroke. Joan went from doing things on her own to needing help- with everything. “I have to depend on other people to help me do things and watch me walk so I don`t fall and just everything I do has to be watched,” said Joan. And on top of that, Joan didn’t know how or if things would ever go back to normal. She didn’t know if she would ever walk again.

But then her physical therapist, Cheryl Vorwald introduced her to the ZeroG Overground Gait and Balance Training System. ZeroG is a robotic training system that holds up to 50 percent of the patient’s body weight to help them walk and learn how to balance again. “It was like a miracle to just get in that machine and walk along. You could walk, you could hop, you could skip,” remembered Joan of the first time she used it.

The patient is in a harness, which is attached to a 75-foot overhead track on the ceiling. The system makes up to 1,200 adjustments per second, and detects if patients start to fall and catches them to prevent injury.

Froedtert ZeroG

“The first time you are afraid you are going to fall and crack your head open or something but then it catches you and you don’t fall,” said Joan. It also allows her personal trainer Cheryl to be a lot more hands on. The standard method without the system involves the physical therapist holding a gait belt while the patient practices walking. It ends up being more “artificial” that working with the ZeroG.

“When I take them and I can step back, they build that confidence and realize I am doing this on my own. The confidence and then their willingness to try other things increases and we can challenge them even further,” said Vorwald.

Froedtert Hospital has had this technology for about a year now. The money to purchase the system was donated to the Froedtert Hospital Foundation by the family of a patient who is deceased. Cheryl can see the difference the system has made in her patients, like Joan. Joan notices the changes it has made in her as well, both physically and mentally.

“You have control of your life again,” said Joan.