Re-educating the legs to walk again is the ultimate goal of this therapy for those who have suffered a stroke.
Unweighted Treadmill Therapy Offers Hope to Stroke Victims
Steve Allen walks the halls, climbs ladders and fixes what needs to be repaired on his job at the Detroit Medical Center. That’s amazing when you consider that Steve suffered a stroke two years ago that incapacitated the entire left side of his body.
He was treated right here at the DMC’s Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan and entered the Unweighted Treadmill Walking Program to re-educate his legs to walk.
During treatment, the patient is placed in a harness suspended from the ceiling to unload a portion of his or her body weight. As the treadmill begins rolling, the legs are manually moved one at a time by therapists. The stroke victim gives as much effort as possible with the hope of eventually regaining control of the legs.
According to stroke victim Mat Freeman, who lost his ability to walk, “I think the treadmill is one of the best things that one can use because it helps you to relearn how to step.”
Physical therapist Nikki Warner believes that the key to success of the unweighted treadmill is that it eliminates the fear of falling. “It allows the patient to not be afraid,” she says. “The patient can give one hundred percent effort. Whereas on the ground, he or she might be afraid of falling and not go all out.”
Dr. Jay Meythaler, Chief of Physical Rehabilitation at the DMC and a professor of medicine at Wayne State University, works with stroke patients and their therapists. “This therapy has a lot of potential,” he says, “because you can work one on one with the patient. It has a very strong psychological component to it, and we think that goes right to the biofeedback. You are upright. You are standing versus sitting on a mat. It really helps,” he says.
Thrilled to have returned to his job, Allen says, “If it weren’t for the people at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan I wouldn’t be back here today.” As for Mat Freeman, his prognosis is good. He is expected to eventually walk again on his own.
The Unweighted Treadmill Walking Program is available to all qualifying patients at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.
For more information or to schedule an appointment at any DMC facility, call 1- 888- DMC- 2500.