ZeroG Maximizes Patient Outcomes at Tampa General Hospital

Source: Tampa General Hospital 

Imagine you’ve had a stroke or been severely injured from a car accident.

Or you’ve developed a neurological condition that paralyzes your whole body. You can’t walk at all. Your life has suddenly turned upside down.

Paralysis affects hundreds of people in the Tampa Bay area each year; people like Steve Connors. Connors was once a paratrooper with the prestigious 82nd Airborne of the U.S. Army, based at Fort Bragg. Throughout his career, he was a medical transporter, a deputy sheriff, and currently a member of the Lakeland Fire Department. He’s always been active and lived a life of service.

But last December, Steve woke up and had tingling in his hands and feet and knew he had to get to the hospital. Even though he lived a reasonable distance away in Lakeland, he told his wife she had to transport him to Tampa General Hospital and bypass the other hospitals along the way. He knew Tampa General could provide the best care.

The sensation first manifested as an inexplicable weakness and then rapidly evolved into a life-threatening situation, eventually paralyzing his entire body. Steve was in extreme pain, unable to walk, eat, speak, and even breathe for himself.

The doctors diagnosed him with Guillain-Barré  Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks nerves. He spent months in the hospital.

But Connors is a fighter. And no stranger to hard work.  He powered through and progressed from being ventilated in the ICU to enduring daily hours of inpatient physical and occupational therapy.

When Steve came to TGH, he was a healthy, fit 202 pounds, but after months of being bed-bound, he lost his muscle mass, and his weight came down to 157 pounds. Then he entered rehabilitation. “It was painful, but I worked out hard every day,” said Connors. “When I first started in rehab, I couldn’t hold a Coke can; I was so weak.”

Thanks to a generous donation by The Hillsborough County Hospital Authority and the TGH Foundation’s Rehab Equipment and Technology Fund, a new, state of the art technology called the “ZeroG Gait and Balance System” by Aretech helped Steve regain his strength and learn to walk again.

The ZeroG protects patients from falls while providing body-weight support as patients practice walking, balance tasks, learn sit-to-stand maneuvers, and even stairs, alongside their physical therapist. Because the ZeroG harness is mounted to a wall track, the patient and the therapist have the reassurance that the patient is safe and cannot fall and injure themselves.

Manuel Garcia-Gaona, a physical therapist, and the primary TGH trainer of the ZeroG,  says it’s 100-percent secure and can hold patients up to 400 pounds. What used to take up to three physical therapists to assist the patient now only takes one.

“When a patient comes to the TGH Rehab Center, they have lost their independence, and they’re very emotional. They were living their lives but now can’t do anything for themselves,” Garcia-Gaona said. “Our goal is to increase their independence. TGH Rehab enables patients to feel secure and keep them going, not to lose hope and build a sense of safety,” he said. “Therapists like it, too, because there’s less chance of back strain.”

Steve remembers sitting and watching other rehab patients, thinking he could never achieve what they did. But then he thought about it more and decided that there will always be someone “worse than me” and said to himself, “no, I CAN do that!”

The ZeroG helped him have the confidence to push the limits.

Steve is currently in outpatient rehab twice a week at Tampa General Hospital and a big advocate of the ZeroG. Through hard work and extensive physical therapy, he has relearned how to eat and walk and is slowly rebuilding his strength to return to doing what he loves, serving as a Lakeland firefighter.

Steve Connors featured in story with fellow Lakeland firefighters


Patients Achieve Higher Functional Outcomes with ZeroG

Source: PRWeb

Two recent studies have demonstrated that patients with acute cerebrovascular accident (CVA) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) who use Aretech’s ZeroG Gait and Balance System during their acute inpatient therapy program achieved higher gains in overall score on the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) as well as sub-categories of the FIM when compared to standard of care (SOC).  Both studies were led by Dr. Lumy Sawaki, MD, PhD, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Kentucky.

The first study compared 29 patients with CVA whose acute physical therapy included regular use of the ZeroG Gait and Balance System to 29 patients whose physical therapy did not utilize any form of overground dynamic body-weight support devices (SOC).  The primary outcome measure was change in overall FIM scores from admission to discharge, while secondary outcome measures included motor FIM score and cognitive FIM score.  The group that utilized ZeroG demonstrated statistically higher gains in overall FIM scores (p = 0.01) and Motor FIM scores (p = 0.016) than SOC therapy.  The ZeroG trained group also demonstrated significantly higher gains in Locomotion (p = 0.023) and Sphincter Control (p = 0.012), which are subscales of the Motor FIM score.

The second study followed the same protocol except each group included a cohort of 6 patients with TBI.  The results of this study were even more pronounced.  The average change in overall FIM scores in the group of patients who utilized ZeroG during their acute rehabilitation more than doubled the changes in the SOC group (ZeroG: 59.7, SOC: 21.1; p = 0.007).  In addition, the group that utilized ZeroG demonstrated statistically significant gains in Motor FIM (p = 0.008) and Cognitive FIM (p = 0.021), as well as Self-Care, Mobility, Locomotion, and Social Cognition subscales when compared to SOC.­

Aretech’s CEO and inventor of ZeroG, Dr. Joe Hidler, said these studies confirm the ideology he and his team had when the idea for ZeroG was first conceived back in the early 2000’s.  “When I first started working on ZeroG, I felt that the system could help patients achieve much higher outcomes than standard of care because ZeroG’s dynamic body-weight support would allow them to begin high-intensity physical therapy earlier in their rehabilitation program, and ZeroG’s advanced fall protection takes away the fear of falling and getting injured.”

Dr. Sawaki agrees and says the staff and patients loved using ZeroG.  “We found that patients immediately took to ZeroG and felt comfortable pushing themselves during activities they normally would be afraid to do.  For our staff, they didn’t have to worry about the safety of the patient because ZeroG took care of that.  Instead, they could focus on the quality of the therapy, and have patients practice the types of activities they would do at home and in the community.”

Dr. Hidler added. “ZeroG is so much more than a simple fall-protection system.   The dynamic body-weight support helps compensate for impairments such as weakness and abnormal synergy patterns.  This allows patients to begin their therapy as soon as they are medically stable and as their abilities improve, the therapist can reduce the amount of body-weight support and make the therapy more challenging.  This progressive therapy approach can be done with a single therapist, which helps to reduce healthcare costs.”

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. ZeroG safely allows walking overground, functional activities, balance and fall prevention training in a ‘reduced gravity’ environment.  The system consists of dynamic body-weight support, fall protection, robotic trolley tracking which anticipates and reacts to patient movements, and TRiP for applying perturbations.  The patient has full freedom to practice a wide variety of activities including steps, getting up from a chair, picking up objects, and using assistive devices such as walkers or canes.

About Aretech

Aretech (, 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.


Elwert N, Powell ES, Anggelis E, Sawaki L, “Effect of dynamic body-weight support on function independence measure in acute ischemic stroke.” 14th ISPRM World Congress and 53rd AAP Annual Meeting. 2020.

Anggelis E, Powell ES, Westgate PM, Glueck AC, Sawaki L, “Impact of motor therapy with dynamic body-weight support on Functional Independence Measures in traumatic brain injury: An exploratory study.” NeuroRehabilitation. 2019 Dec 18;45(4):519-524.







No More “Fear of Falling” with the ZeroG Gait and Balance System

Source: Spokesman-Review

After a July 23 rollover accident, Cameron Tweedy received a grim outlook on ever walking again. Along with lower body numbness, he had suffered five fractures in his spine and a crushed ankle.

“They told me I had less than 1% chance of minimal function in my legs,” said Tweedy, 21, a Spokane resident. “I had less than 1% chance of twitching my toes, essentially. I didn’t like that.”  He described surgery to repair his spine with pins, rods and a thin metal bar. With therapy, Tweedy now can walk, mostly using crutches. Since early January, he credits a much faster pace to the help of a new device at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute.

Called the ZeroG Gait and Balance System, the robotic body-weight support equipment helps people learn to walk again without fear of falling. The system simulates a reduced-gravity environment. The ZeroG system is expected to help about 1,000 patients a year who have spinal cord and brain injuries, stroke symptoms, multiple sclerosis diagnosis, Parkinson’s disease and lower extremity amputations, St. Luke’s said in a news release.

The device is attached to a motorized trolley along a U-shaped, ceiling-mounted track in a large therapy room. A rope suspends from the ZeroG that is hooked to a harness worn by the patient. As the ZeroG was installed in late December, Tweedy was transitioning from a walker to crutches and had reached about 400 to 600 steps per session. Within a week or two of using the ZeroG, he said it helped him exceed 1,500 steps in one session.

“It’s really hard to go from not walking, and using a walker where you can put all your weight down, to going to crutches,” he said.  “I struggled more with walking with that fear of falling, especially with not being able to feel all the lower half of my body. It built my confidence back up. When I started using the ZeroG, that’s when my progression started getting better because the fear of falling went away.”

The robotic device has a sensor as it tracks movements from above, and information is linked to a nearby computer. Therapists also can use a smartphone for monitoring, and software collects data that tracks a patient’s progress and a session’s results. Parameters are set so that the device catches a person before they fall but can allow for some range of motion such as climbing steps. As a patient’s therapy progresses, a wider range can be practiced, such as going from standing to a seated position.


Neurophysical therapist Sarah Gross and Jake Allstot, assistant manager of rehabilitation at St. Luke’s, helped Tweedy go through a recent session. Gross said Tweedy uses the ZeroG once a week in addition to swimming for outpatient therapy.

Allstot said the ZeroG is designed to eliminate the fear of falls because it prevents those from happening, but patients can still feel any loss of balance and the body adjustments needed to compensate if they sense a fall.

“Since we started using it in January, we’ve worked with 32 patients and prevented 250 falls,” Allstot said. “It allows freedom of movement, and it does that with safety at the forefront.  “This device allows a patient to really feel his own loss of balance, feel his own weight and do his own performance, but not by compromising safety.”  That takes a caregiver’s focus away from watching for falls and instead on providing better therapy treatments, Allstot said. “You can program a fall distance. You can set perhaps 4 inches of fall, or you can set it to where it’s a velocity where it will detect if a patient drops really fast,” he said. “It will stop and correct that fall.”

In earlier therapy sessions, Tweedy had used another piece of equipment at St. Luke’s, the Lokomat, that’s a robotic exoskeleton treadmill. The Lokomat helped him to walk up to nearly 400 steps per session this past fall.

For the recent session, Allstot put the ZeroG’s body harness on Tweedy. The harness attaches to a bar and a rope hovering above a patient’s shoulders. The harness also is secured around the waist, with straps down the thighs and attached around the leg above the knees. During the recent session, Tweedy practiced walking with the use of both crutches. Later, he practiced going over a step, and then walking with one crutch to prepare for eventual use of a cane.

“The way I have it set now is if he drops at certain speed, as soon as he hits that speed, it will catch him,” Allstot said. “The reason we could go over that step is he didn’t exceed a certain velocity.”  “The sensor detects how much rope is coming out and how fast. He can go all the way to the ground, and the machine will adapt for that need or for him to sit. It also counts total steps. We can change to a small movement, so if you have a small buckle, it will trigger a response to protect the patient.”

Allstot also demonstrated how the device can help patients practice adjusting their weight and balance in response to someone bumping into them. Tweedy had to shift his balance and at one point put a foot out to catch himself.   “You can do a response to simulate a forced pull on him,” Allstot said. “He has to stay balanced. It’s practical if someone in the community bumps into him, and that can happen. He’s practiced for that.”

St. Luke’s also described the ZeroG, which costs $260,000 for equipment and installation, as the only device of its kind in the Inland Northwest. Providence Health Care Foundation provided funds for the system, with major contributors including the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.


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 (, 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:


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