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.”

TRiP Released for ZeroG

Source: PRWeb

Aretech, LLC, an advanced rehabilitation technology leader, announced the release of TRiP for the ZeroG Gait and Balance System, which allows therapists to apply unexpected external perturbations to their patients in order to teach them how to recover from a loss of balance. TRiP (Training Responses in Postural Rehabilitation) was developed in collaboration with Drs. Fay Horak and Laurie King at the Balance Disorders Laboratory at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU).

Inadequate stepping responses in the elderly and those with neurological impairments contribute to a loss of balance and falls. With TRiP, ZeroG becomes the first and only technology which can apply measurable and controlled perturbations in a safe and consistent manner to patients while they are standing or ambulating. Therapists can personalize the strength of the perturbation and the direction in which the ZeroG robot will perturb the patient. This gives them the ability to modify and challenge patients with balance disorders.

“ZeroG TRiP is a revolutionary new breakthrough in approaching balance training and fall prevention. Balance recovery involving rapid compensatory stepping is essential to prevent falling. However, learning these techniques requires eliciting a loss of balance which is not typically practiced in rehabilitation due to the safety concerns of falling,” said Joe Hidler, PhD, CEO of Aretech. “Now with TRiP, because they are connected to ZeroG, there is no risk of falling as they practice recovering from a loss of balance. Therapists can safely simulate slips and trips during walking, turning, and stepping backwards within the safe environment of ZeroG.”

TRiP is completely unlike other balance training methods because ZeroG can be used to simulate real-world situations while the person is dynamically moving. In addition, the patient can be completely taken by surprise by not knowing when or in which direction the therapist will perturb them. Other methods such as balance platforms are not realistic scenarios as most falls occur during walking and turning. With platforms, the patient routinely has their feet firmly planted anticipating the disturbance.

“Laboratory studies have shown that postural stepping responses can be improved with practice,” said Fay Horak, PhD, PT, Professor of Neurology, School of Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University. “Now it is possible for physical therapists to implement this type of training safely with their patients.”

TRiP was designed to be an easy-to-use application on the ZeroG touchscreen and wireless remote. This empowers therapists to quickly choose the strength and direction of a perturbation on the fly so each session can be tailored to each individual. Dr. Hidler anticipates TRiP will be an important tool in a fall prevention program. “By learning the skills practiced with ZeroG TRiP, patients in their daily lives will be better prepared to recognize how to recover from a loss of balance at home and in the community. The hope is that this, in turn, will decrease the likelihood of a fall.”

About ZeroG TRiP

TRiP (Training Responses in Postural Rehabilitation) is a patent pending software algorithm for the ZeroG Gait and Balance System. TRiP allows therapists to apply controlled and measurable perturbations to patients while ambulating or during stationary activities. The framework for ZeroG TRiP is based on the scientific findings from the Balance Disorders Laboratory at OHSU over the last ten years.

About the ZeroG Gait and Balance System

The ZeroG Gait and Balance System has been used by patients since 2008 and is intended for patients in rehabilitation who need dynamic body-weight support and are at a risk of falling. ZeroG gives therapists the opportunity to safely treat a broad range of patient populations with dynamic body-weight support in functional activities such as overground walking, sit-to-stand, getting off the floor and stairs.

About Aretech

Aretech (http://www.aretechllc.com), headquartered in Ashburn, Virginia, is a world leader in developing advanced rehabilitation technologies for improving function and independence. The company has a strong commitment to quality, innovation, and developing technology based on evidence-based research.

Gaylord Hospital Demonstrates ZeroG

Source:  Gaylord Specialty Healthcare / Gaylord Hospital

Physical Therapists Erica Cadavid, PT, DPT and Kaitlyn Rudolph PT, DPT at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare highlight their ZeroG Gait and Balance System.

View Gaylord Hospital Video of ZeroG

ZeroG creates a safe environment so therapists can perform high level balance training and functional mobility without the risk of their patient falling.  Physical Therapists enjoy using ZeroG for stair navigation and gait training, while Occupational Therapists at Gaylord are using ZeroG for other home management tasks like reaching down to pick up an object and carrying a laundry basket.

ZeroG Gait and Balance System at Gaylord












The therapists at Gaylord have used ZeroG for all types of their patients such as pulmonary, those after a traumatic brain injury, stroke, or spinal cord injury and general medical patients.  ZeroG has helped the therapists at Gaylord by allowing them to get their patients up on their feet a lot quicker and try activities that they may not have tried previously due to safety concerns.

For more information on Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, visit: http://www.gaylord.org


ZeroG Used to Push Boundaries at Special Tree NeuroCare Center

Source: WXYZ Detroit

Cutting-edge new technology making its debut in southeast Michigan could be life-changing for those with brain and spinal cord injuries.

The robotic “ZeroG” is helping patients at Special Tree in Romulus.

Sloan Hogan was driving down the street when a vehicle came out of his driveway right out into the middle of the street, hitting him. He was paralyzed from the armpits all the way to the bottom of his feet.

At Special Tree’s Neuro-rehabilitation center, he’s now doing something he couldn’t do a month ago thanks to ZeroG. He’s walking.

The ZeroG Gait and Balance System by Aretech, is a robotic body-weight support system that enables those recovering from brain injuries to engage in high-intensity rehab much sooner in the recovery process – which studies show lead to much better patient outcomes.

ZeroG gives patients like Hogan the confidence to push his boundaries without fear of falling and a feeling of independence.

Instead of their movement being corrected by a therapist, ZeroG helps patients correct themselves which speeds recovery.

View Video Here

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

Aretech Unveils New ZeroG Gait and Balance System

Aretech, LLC, an advanced rehabilitation technology leader, announced the release of Version 3 of the ZeroG Gait and Balance System at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting (APTA-CSM) in San Antonio, TX. The new ZeroG is the most sophisticated robotic body-weight support system in the world. The system has been redesigned with more features, more versatility, and even higher performance. With the WaveLink WiFi Guardian, ZeroG becomes the first and only completely wireless system in its class not dependent solely on Wi-Fi connectivity.

“The new ZeroG truly encompasses over a decade of experience working hand in hand with physical therapists around the world to deliver the most advanced rehabilitation technology for treating gait and balance disorders,” said Joe Hidler, CEO of Aretech and inventor of the ZeroG Gait and Balance System. “Our commitment to patient safety is reflected in numerous new safety features, including the WaveLink communication protocol. This provides therapists an alternate method of controlling ZeroG independent of a Wi-Fi signal.” Dr. Hidler also believes the new features of ZeroG will help deliver a premium rehabilitation experience. “One of the new features we are most excited about is the new dynamic fall recovery with ActiveAssist, which intelligently adapts the dynamic body-weight support after a fall to aid those patients who may need assistance regaining control.”

At APTA-CSM, therapists had the opportunity to try the new ZeroG. “Therapists really appreciated our new fall cushioning technology. This softens the impact for the patient when ZeroG catches a fall, making for a much more comfortable experience,” said Don Gronachan, Aretech’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Aretech Social ZeroG Release

ZeroG Version 3 Release at APTA-CSM 2017

The Most Sophisticated ZeroG Ever

Originally launched in 2008, ZeroG gives therapists the opportunity to safely treat a broad range of patient populations with dynamic body-weight support in functional activities such as overground walking, sit-to-stand, getting off the floor and stairs. Building upon innovations pioneered by Aretech, ZeroG Version 3 represents the biggest redesign in years. The system now has the capacity to support up to a 450-pound patient. Because ZeroG may be used to raise a patient to standing, one therapist can train heavy patients without the risk of falling.

The dynamic body-weight support of ZeroG is the fastest and most precise available, accurately tracking vertical movements at over 26 inches per second, which is twice as fast as similar systems on the market. This provides patients a stable environment with constant body-weight support even when getting to standing from a chair or the floor. Using ZeroG Kinetics, therapists can choose from various balance training programs using real-time biofeedback to treat their patients in anticipatory balance activities. And for those who have two ZeroG robotic trolleys on the same track, ZeroG has the new Stealth Detection feature, which acts as invisible bumpers to propel the second robot out of the way when not in use for a truly infinite track.

“Aretech is proud to continue to advance the field of rehabilitation forward with innovative, first-to-market features which have never been seen before,” said Hidler. “We’ve been able to take our experience and create the most sophisticated rehabilitation system on the market that gives therapists and patients the best opportunity to improve outcomes.”

About Aretech
Aretech (http://www.aretechllc.com), headquartered in Ashburn, Virginia, is a world leader in developing advanced rehabilitation technologies for improving function and independence. The company has a strong commitment to quality, innovation, and developing technology based on evidence-based research.

How ZeroG is Used with Marianjoy Patients

Source Video: Marianjoy

Vanessa Flaherty, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, IL, shows how ZeroG helps them safely perform gait retraining with their patients.


ZeroG can help those who are recovering from neuromuscular disorders such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and incomplete spinal cord injury or other orthopedic conditions. ZeroG enables Marianjoy therapists to provide the patients with task-specific practice. This means, that the patient is able to practice the entire task of walking as a whole without breaking up the movement into individual components.


ZeroG differs from conventional harness systems. Traditional systems catch the patient immediately once the loss of balance is detected in order to prevent a fall. ZeroG, however, allows the therapist to set the amount of distance before the catch mechanism is employed. Not only does this help the patient to relearn how to control and recover from a stumble or fall, it also retrains the brain on the proper way to react and correct for a loss of balance. Because ZeroG provides the opportunity to make errors in a safe environment, the patient is better able to carry over these skills to real-world situations.




Another benefit of using ZeroG, is that it allows for increased repetition and practice of the task of walking. ZeroG is also integrated with a Woodway split-belt treadmill. The treadmill allows the therapist to vary the speed of the patients gait as well as isolate working on one leg or the other to help improve the affected leg’s swing time and challenge it’s stability.

Because the system can be set to support any amount of the client’s body-weight, most clients are able to walk for a longer time period and often at a faster pace without fatiguing as quickly.


Recent neuroplasticity studies have shown repetition and task-specific practice like this is essential for the recovery of functional mobility as well as the cortical recovery in the brain itself. The ZeroG system can also be used while performing balance training, floor transfers and while teaching patients how to overcome other barriers such as stairs, curves and other obstacles they may encounter at home and within their community.



For more information on using ZeroG at Marianjoy, please call 800-462-2366 or visit: www.marianjoy.org


To see entire video, click here to view on YouTube: ZeroG Marianjoy Video

12 Year Old with Cerebral Palsy is Fearless in ZeroG

Source: Sweet Charity/Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network

Anna Faura is positively giddy with excitement. It’s a Thursday afternoon at  the Dornsife Pediatric Therapy Suite on Good Shepherd’s south Allentown campus and for the pretty and energetic 12 year old, that means one-on-one time with the ZeroG, a gait and balance system that brings life-changing technology to children like Anna.

For Anna, who has cerebral palsy, this is one of the best days of the week because for the first time in her life, Anna is walking as she’s never done before, experiencing mobility without relying on her walker. Suddenly, the world seems to hold greater possibilities for a girl on the verge of becoming a teen-ager, who is yearning for more independence and literally is making strides to achieve that goal.

“She has some girl-power attitude and that’s what you want her to have, independence and a high functioning level despite her disabilities,” says Anna’s mother, Melissa, marveling at her daughter’s enthusiasm and progress. “I consider the ZeroG state of the art and so innovative. She’s just blossomed since doing this.”


That Anna is able to keep her sense of delight is all the more remarkable for a young girl who had to learn to walk not once but twice. Melissa and Anna’s father, Xavier, know that beyond the uncertainties Anna will face as she grows older, two things have been a reassuring constant in their lives, Good Shepherd and a daughter who is their “angel on earth,” bringing them light and love and joy.

Melissa first became acquainted with Good Shepherd in the 1990s when she worked there as a dietitian in the rehabilitation hospital and then again some years later as a clinical nutrition manager.

“Little did I know then that I would need and value their services on a personal level for my daughter,” she says.

Anna was born on October 3, 2003, delivered by Caesarean section. Exposure to the entero-virus during birth led to viral encephalitis, inflammation of the brain.  For the first two and a half weeks of her life, Anna was kept in the neonatal intensive care unit. The tiny infant struggled with fever, uncontrollable seizures and a low heart rate. Unable to breathe on her own, Anna was on a ventilator. It took four days before the diagnosis was confirmed, an excruciating time for Melissa and Xavier who didn’t know if their baby would survive.

“She almost died,” says Melissa. “We had her baptized three days after being born.”

Finally Anna stabilized enough to go home but there were more struggles ahead. It took two months to finally get the seizures under control and as time passed, other problems became apparent: Anna wasn’t reaching the normal developmental milestones. She was non-verbal, she couldn’t sit up on her own when she was 10 months old and she didn’t start to crawl until she reached 18 months.

Melissa also noticed that Anna wasn’t reacting to light and movement. “You could pass by her and she wasn’t tracking,” says Melissa.

A specialist determined when Anna was two months old that she had cortical visual impairment, a disconnect between what she saw and what her brain was able to process. “It was like an uphill climb of Mt. Everest because it was one obstacle after another,” says Melissa.

The cerebral palsy diagnosis came when Anna was a year old. Immediately Melissa and Xavier began exploring therapies that would help their daughter be the best she could possibly be. They had plenty to work with. “She was the most loving and happy child,” says Melissa. “She was able to adjust to anyone who picked her up, she didn’t cry much and she was comforted easily.”

At two, Anna began physical therapy at Good Shepherd’s outpatient pediatrics program through early intervention. A year later, occupational and speech therapies were added. Having worked for Good Shepherd years before and witnessed some powerful recoveries with neurologically impaired patients, Melissa knew that if her daughter was to thrive, Good Shepherd offered the best chance.

“I loved the interdisciplinary approach to improving patient outcomes,” says Melissa. “It was just incredible for me to see how the team worked together.  It was so worth coming to work every day.”

As Anna grew, the need for orthopedic surgery became more apparent. In 2013, Anna’s femurs were fractured and rotated then realigned on her hips with plates and screws to prevent her legs from turning inward.  Anna was admitted to the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Emily Howatt Pliskatt Pediatric Unit in Bethlehem where she had to learn to walk all over again.

When Anna arrived, she could only stand for 15 seconds. After two and a half months, with leg braces and a walker, she walked out.

“What a joy that was,” says Melissa. “I thought she was never going to walk again but she showed us that with her spirit and sense of hard work and determination that she could do it. She’s teaching us every day.”

Melissa credits much of Anna’s recovery with the excellent teamwork between Good Shepherd’s outpatient and inpatient therapists. “Within a very short period of time, they knew exactly what to do with Anna,” says Melissa. “The care was seamless.”

Once again, Anna resumed outpatient therapy. When the RJ Foundation generously provided funding for purchase of the ZeroG, Anna’s physical therapist, Amanda Kleckner, began evaluating Anna as a possible candidate. A harness fastened to an overhead track helps support Anna’s body weight allowing her to walk without holding on to anything and giving her a sense of greater independence.


See VIDEO of Anna Walking in ZeroG


“She needed to work on hands-free ambulation and I liked the ZeroG for her because it decreases her fear of falling since it catches her,” says Amanda. “Anna now is getting more mobility outside of her walker and her gait pattern is improving because she’s taking longer steps and has less hip rotation.”

Amanda also uses a treadmill in Anna’s sessions with the ZeroG, helping her progress even more. “She can get 1000 steps in a short amount of time by going faster on the treadmill,” says Amanda. “The repetition helps with neuroplasticity, retraining the muscles and nerves.”

Whatever nervousness Anna had during her first session with the ZeroG was gone by the third session. Fear gave way to fearlessness and that has become evident at home where Anna, under the watchful eye of her brother, Juan, and parents, now can walk through the downstairs hallway on her own and delights in climbing up and down the stairs with more confidence than before she began using the ZeroG.

“If I go to hold her waist, she’ll move my hand off her waist as if to say, ‘Mom. I’ve got this,’” says Melissa.

Excursions to the park near their home bring out even more of Anna’s hunger for independence. Melissa and Xavier beam when they watch how much faster Anna moves using her walker as she makes a beeline for the park. Watching their daughter’s confidence bloom exceeds what these devoted parents ever imagined.

“I think our hopes for her in the beginning were not that great,” says Xavier. “But after the surgery and what Good Shepherd has done for her, it’s good.”

Adds Melissa, “Good Shepherd is a blessing to our family. The therapists are highly dedicated to improving our daughter’s functional abilities and it’s providing her with the latest technology to advance her. When she’s doing the ZeroG, she’s just happy and as a parent, that’s all you want for your child.”