Learning to Walk again at Methodist Outpatient Rehab

Source: Meridianstar

Accustomed to running around on the softball field, Northeast Lauderdale alumna Alixus Hearn decided she wasn’t going to be sitting down for the rest of her life.

On Oct. 2, 2017, Hearn was involved in a car wreck that ejected her from her vehicle and left her paralyzed from the waist down due to her fourth and fifth thoracic vertebra being bruised and twisted. Initially, doctors told her she may never walk again, but Hearn opted for a vigorous rehab program at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson.

“Sitting down for a long period of time, I just wasn’t with that,” Hearn explained. “Having my mom and dad with me, they kept the positive energy around me. I just put everything in and went head first. I wasn’t sitting down until I got better.”

It began with baby steps last November, followed by using a walker to help her. Eventually, she ditched the walker for a cane, which she used from February until May. Now, Hearn no longer uses the cane to walk.

“It feels amazing,” Hearn said. “I can’t really explain it. It’s just been amazing. I don’t have to depend on anything to help me walk.”

Methodist offered Hearn rehab technology like the ZeroG Gait and Balance System, a device connected to an overhead track that harnessed Hearn upright, allowing her to do a wide range of motion activities while preventing her from falling. Originally, she went to therapy three times a week, but now her sessions have been reduced to once a week.

Having access to high-tech rehab equipment made a big difference in Hearn learning to walk again, and she said she’s grateful to live in a time where such technology is at her disposal.

“I don’t think Meridian gets that many spinal injury patients,” Hearn said. “They probably wouldn’t know what to do. I tried every piece of equipment (Methodist) had, and it helped a lot. I’m grateful for that.”

Emotional support proved just as important as physical support, and that began with Hearn’s parents, Allison Hearn and Demitrius Robinson.

“They did every single thing they could to keep me motivated and pumped,” Hearn said. “Both of them were my motivators. They did a good job with keeping my spirits up.”

That emotional support extended to her Lady Trojan teammates, who adopted the slogan “13 strong” in honor of Hearn, who wore No. 13 for Northeast Lauderdale.

“That meant everything to me,” Hearn said. “It showed me how much they cared and loved me.”

Being a softball player also helped in her rehab from a physical standpoint.

“Even my therapist said that since I played sports, I had a lot of muscle, and that was good,” Hearn explained. “In my sessions, there were some spots where I was stronger just because I played softball and had all that extra weight.”

Now a student at Meridian Community College, Hearn plans to transfer to Mississippi State and earn a degree in athletic training. Having grown up playing sports, Hearn said she would love to continue being around athletics as a trainer.

“At first, I just played for fun so I wouldn’t get bored, but as I gradually got into it, I just fell in love with the game even more, being out there and doing what I do best,” Hearn said.


Community Hospital in Munster offers ZeroG

Source: Times Staff

Amy Peters and Julie Gaski are taking steps to heal and recover after illness left them unable to walk by themselves. With the help of new technology at Community Hospital in Munster, they have new motivation and hope.

The ZeroG Gait and Balance System, the first of its kind in Northwest Indiana, is a robotic, body-weight support system. Patients wear a specialized harness that connects to the ZeroG robot as it supports and tracks their movements from above. ZeroG helps the patient practice walking, complete balance exercises and work on position changes such as sitting to standing. The “reduced gravity” environment is a feature to support balance while preventing falls.

“ZeroG gives our patients the safety and confidence to practice functional, real-world balance and walking activities,” said Amy Castillo, director of therapy services at Community Hospital. “We believe the use of ZeroG technology will help our patients accelerate and maximize recovery.”

Peters, of Munster and a Times employee, experienced difficulty walking as the result of a tumor that was pressing on her spinal cord. After chemotherapy, she initially was only able to walk with the assistance of a walker. Once her physical therapist added the ZeroG sessions three times a week, she was able to stand on her own.

“Using a walker is just not the same,” Peters said. “The ZeroG has restored my confidence in walking.”

Gaski, a resident of Crown Point, agrees. For two years following a stroke that rendered her left hand and foot immobile, she couldn’t walk and had an overwhelming fear of falling.

“The ZeroG gives your body a different feeling of ‘I can do this,’” Gaski said. “It’s amazing to stand on my own again after two years. It’s a wonderful thing.”

ZeroG can support up to 450 pounds and a variety of diagnoses, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation, cerebral palsy and other orthopedic and neurological conditions. The therapist secures the individual into a comfortable harness, attaches it to the ZeroG robot and therapy can begin. The amount of support is customized for each person depending upon the level of their ability and can be increased or decreased with the touch of a remote button.

Support can be set to offload the person’s weight by up to 200 pounds, making them feel lighter in a “reduced gravity” environment. This allows them to undergo therapy at higher intensity levels sooner after injury or illness. As the individual progresses, the support can be decreased so the person does more under their own capabilities.

“For patients’ recovering from a stroke, like Julie, who cannot feel or have impaired awareness of where their foot and leg are when standing or walking, their perception and safety of daily mobility may be altered or compromised,” said Jacob Virgo, a clinical specialist in the hospital’s physical therapy department.

“The ZeroG allows for more intensive and task-specific training that may not be feasible outside of the support system. It gives therapists and patients the confidence and means to push the limits of what is possible, and allows the patient to progress to that next level of independence and safety.”

ZeroG Used in Recovery after Body Surfing Accident

Source: ABC7 News – SF Bay Area

Emergency room physician, Matthew Wetschler was body surfing when a wave sent him head first into the ocean floor. He was found floating in the water with a broken neck and without a pulse. He was given CPR on the beach, and was rushed to the hospital without the ability to move his arms or legs. Three hours later, he was in a pioneering “ultra early surgery” and was able to slightly move his left hand and leg the next day.
Just over a week later, Wetschler was transferred to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s inpatient rehabilitation unit. He used Aretech’s ZeroG Gait and Balance System to practice getting to standing, walking, lunges, kicking a soccer ball, and tossing and catching inflatable balls.
Because of all those involved in his recovery, and by using ZeroG to safely practice intensive therapy, Matthew Wetschler’s pace of recovery has been uncharacteristically rapid.

Representative Steve Scalise Relearns to Walk with Help from ZeroG

Source:  CBS News

Months after being ambushed by a gunman, Representative Steve Scalise tells 60 Minutes how close he came to dying – and how a series of “little miracles” saved him.

The Republican lawmakers had been practicing in Virginia for a charity baseball game, when a bullet tore through his hip and across his body.  He nearly died that day and has since fought through serious infections and begun the difficult process of relearning to walk.

Scalise ZeroG Overground

Part of his therapy included using Aretech’s ZeroG Gait and Balance System at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC.

Click here to view the 60 Minutes piece

ZeroG Helps Man with an Incomplete SCI Walk Again

Source: YourWestValley

On January 11, Rick Schmidt’s golf shoe caught on the accelerator and his car smashed into a tree.  The accident in Trilogy at Vistancia caused an incomplete spinal cord injury that essentially rendered Schmidt, 64, a quadriplegic — plus left him with a broken leg.

Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital in Surprise wasn’t even open yet. But the new hospital and a determined patient would team up with near miraculous results, once Schmidt heard there was a slight chance he could walk again.

“When I found out I didn’t sever my spine, but it was crushed, and I found out there was a minute possibility, I was determined to walk again,” Schmidt said Friday. “I don’t accept failure. I will win. When I make up my mind to do something, it’s done.”

The 40-bed rehab campus at 13050 W. Bell Road began accepting patients January 18.  St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix called Cobalt about Schmidt and at that point, about 10 days after his crash, he could only wiggle his toes. Schmidt was transferred from St. Joseph’s to Cobalt on Jan. 27 as the rehab hospital’s 12th patient.

Schmidt could not move otherwise, could not feed himself and had no control over bodily functions. The Cobalt team began efforts to reacquire these skills as well as moving Schmidt’s limbs for him to avoid spasticity and atrophy.

Therapists worked on strengthening upper extremities through active resistance. They also put him in a lift to simulate sitting up, and a sliding board for mobility in bed.

Cobalt has the Aretech ZeroG Gait and Balance System, which allowed him to walk in simulated gravity-free environment. Noe said the harness allows patient to redevelop a normal walking gait rather than taking first halting steps with a walker.

Once a patient improves, the ZeroG program can add virtual obstacles to test how they can work their way around without falling.

Tina Serbin, a Cobalt physical therapist, shows Rick how to use the ZeroG Gait and Balance System

It was a test of the all-new team at the just opened hospital. Cobalt has state of the art equipment but most of it had not been used with a patient.

Those working with Schmidt had to be in lockstep on his diet, rehab regimen and communication of what he needed help with and what he needed to do himself.

“You still don’t expect it within 10 days,” Sharon Noe, Cobalt CEO said. “We huddled each morning and discussed his case. The therapists get a lot of accolades and they’re well-deserved, but nursing is a critical component. These are not just nurses that hand out meds, they’re rehab nurses and participate in the rehabilitation process as much as the therapist.”

Schmidt credited the entire team at Cobalt for their upbeat attitude, responsiveness and thoughtful planning.

By the end of his time at Cobalt, Schmidt was able to take 589 steps in a day on ZeroG, and about 170 with his walker.

When he left, Noe said Schmidt was at least four to six months ahead of the normal curve. Cobalt worked on wheelchair seating and placement. But instead of a typical rehab for this injury — which is 90 percent wheelchair based — Schmidt’s program was 30 to 40 percent with the wheelchair, Noe said.

Schmidt said his neurologist told him in March that he’ll make a full recovery in between one year and 18 months.

ZeroG Helps Stroke Patient Learn to Walk Again

Source:  Portland Business Journal & KATU2

Gary LaRue, a 74-year-old Yamhill County farmer, had a severe stroke on March 17th that paralyzed his right side and affected his speech.  Less than six weeks later, he was walking — with assistance — thanks to a new device at the Legacy Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon, or RIO, which is located at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland.

Gary LaRue at RIO

Gary LaRue had a stroke in March, but has been able to practice walking with the ZeroG system at Legacy Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon

The institute is the first in the Pacific Northwest to offer the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System, a robotic mechanism that helps brain and spinal cord patients safely practice walking, balancing and getting up. It allows a patient to begin intensive therapy earlier than they otherwise would.

LaRue came to RIO two weeks after his stroke, which had left him wheelchair bound.

“For someone with no balance, they can attempt to walk and eliminate that fear of falling,” said Eric LaRue, Gary’s son and partner in an excavation company.

ZeroG consists of a computerized trolley that runs on a track on the ceiling. The person using it puts on a harness attached to the trolley, which partially supports their weight and moves with them.

VIDEO: See Gary walk in ZeroG

It’s different than previous systems in a couple of ways, said Valerie Fesler, LaRue’s physical therapist.

Gary chose Legacy RIO for his post-stroke recovery in order to use ZeroG

Gary chose Legacy RIO for therapy in order to use ZeroG in his recovery

“We had a system prior to this that would support the patient’s weight but was very cumbersome and would swing and throw them off balance when they were trying to walk,” Fesler said. “It allows us to get folks on their feet sooner because it’s a fall-free environment. It takes some of the fear out of walking, because they know they’re in this safe environment to practice.”

ZeroG can be used for a variety of diagnoses, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation, cerebral palsy and other orthopedic and neurological injuries.

LaRue’s wife of 51 years Miriam, and son Eric said they are looking forward to him coming home from rehab this week. They hope he’ll be able to walk unassisted in the next couple of months. LaRue, who also raises Black Angus cattle, was very active before the stroke and was operating heavy machinery the week before. “He’s not your average 74 year old,” Miriam LaRue said.


Case Study: Faster Recovery Time with ZeroG

Source: Evergreen Health & Rehab

After two devastating falls, one that broke his back and another that broke his hip, Gerald Mott of Toms Brook, VA was basically unable to walk or perform many other necessary activities of daily living (ADLs). Mott, 74, also suffers from osteoporosis. Still, he was highly motivated to get back on his feet and return home after his injuries.

Faster Post-Surgery Rehabilitation

After orthopedic surgery, Mott was transferred from the hospital to Evergreen Health and Rehab, Winchester, VA, the only local rehab facility with a state-of-the-art rehabilitation device called the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System, developed by Aretech. Mott was the first patient to use Evergreen’s ZeroG after the facility acquired it on July 1, 2015.

Dr. Michael Li, Evergreen’s Medical Director, said that the ZeroG Gait and Balance System is helping to lower overall rehabilitation costs. “With the help of the robotic ZeroG, patients can recover faster and more quickly regain function,” explained Li.

In the case of Mott, it’s estimated that the ZeroG cut his rehabilitation center stay in at least half. He spent just 5 weeks at Evergreen and now continues his physical therapy twice a week at the home he shares with his wife of 52 years. Evergreen’s Rehab Director, Connie Peace, said that Mott would have likely become a long-term care resident, or had a very lengthy stay of 10 weeks or more had he not been able to rehabilitate using the ZeroG.

ZeroG Gait Balance







About the ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System

The ZeroG robotic system allows patients to practice functional activities safely, with biofeedback that provides vital motivation and cues. The technology can compensate for a patient’s poor coordination or weakness while lowering the risk of injury to both the patient and the therapist. Besides helping patients rehab after orthopedic surgery, the ZeroG also has applications for patients who have had a stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, amputation, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis.

The ZeroG technology is used in about 77 of the leading rehab hospitals in the United States, according to Michael Ranberger, president and owner of Evergreen. “It’s pretty unusual for ZeroG to be in a post-acute facility like ours, but Evergreen does a lot of return-to-home rehab,” said Ranberger.

More Aggressive Therapy Speeds Progress

Mark Howard, Evergreen’s business development manager, pointed to another aspect of the ZeroG that helps speed up rehabilitation progress. “This device is really conducive to getting people up on their feet faster,” he said. Howard explained that, because patients are out of their walkers and wheelchairs, the therapists can use both hands and be much more aggressive in therapy. The more aggressive the therapy, the faster the progress.

Mott, for one, is extremely grateful for the positive outcome. “It’s going to help so many people,” he said. “I was excited to just be a part of it because I couldn’t move at all.”

“I went from the wheelchair to the walker,” Mott said. “[Now] I can use two canes to get around. I thought I would never walk again. You have to go to rehab. You have to.”

ZeroG Gait & Balance training technology at Mary Free Bed

Source: Mary Free Bed

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital becomes the first hospital in the Midwest to acquire a ZeroG Version 2. This new technology aids patients in gait and balance activities while they still have the safety of being protected by falls. Patient Todd VanZantwick used ZeroG to jog half a dozen paces down the hallway three weeks after he began his physical therapy. VanZantwick was among the first patients to benefit from ZeroG, Mary Free Bed’s new and sophisticated gait and balance training system. It gave VanZantwick the confidence to push himself harder because he knew he wouldn’t fall.

“There’s no way we could have attempted that without this equipment,” Mary Free Bed physical therapy Kristy Simpson said of VanZantwick’s brief run. “Now, we can be more aggressive, because the risk of fall is almost eliminated. And the more aggressive we can be, the more function the patient will recover.

ZeroG is a machine that runs along 85 feet of ceiling-mounted track on the fourth floor of Mary Free Bed’s new hospital in Grand Rapids.

Mary Free Bed Hall walk

ZeroG provides “dynamic” support. Once a patient is trapped into the harness, a therapist can program the machine to provide a certain amount of constant physical support and to “catch” the patient if he or she ventures out of the designated parameters. ZeroG gave VanZantwick the support and leeway to jump and move from side to side, but once he strayed too far or moved too quickly, signaling the machine he might be falling, the ZeroG Harness strap would lock to prevent him from taking a tumble.


Patient Terry Carter is rehabilitating from a spinal cord injury and broken hip. ZeroG provided support as he attempted to step up onto a stool. He also worked on standing from a seated position – without fear he would tumble forward onto the floor. Carter even enjoyed a game of Tetris on ZeroG’s touchscreen by working to control and stack the blocks by jumping or moving his body from left to right.

Mary Free Bed ZeroG Games


“If we have to concentrate on keeping a patient from falling, it’s difficult to also focus on the muscles they’re using and how to best help them improve their walking skills”, Simpson said.

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.”

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