Motorised system could restore mobility to disabled people

Motorised system could restore mobility to disabled people
Patients with paraplegia could soon see their prospects of walking significantly improved thanks to a new type of robotic rehabilitation system developed by Swiss firm Hocoma.

The Lokomat is a driven gait orthosis used for robotic treadmill training of neurological patients with movement disorders caused by stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury or multiple sclerosis.

Developed in collaboration with Balgrist University Hospital, it relies on a pair of motorised orthoses, which walk at a steady pace on a treadmill.

The robotic legs are powered by high precision electric motors, brakes and gearheads from UK firm maxon motor and are synchronised to match the treadmill's motion with enough precision to challenge the patient's own legs without harming them.

As a result, Hocoma says patients can train more precisely and for longer than with traditional manual therapy techniques.

Ian Bell, senior sales engineer at maxon, said: "The Lokomat is a stunning piece of engineering, and the fact that maxon motors now forms an integral part of helping to rehabilitate so many disabled people is something that makes us all tremendously proud.

"maxon engineers worked closely with the design team over a number of months to specify a solution with exactly the right mix of dynamics and power density, and maximise service life. To see lives being changed as a result is truly touching."

Hocoma believes that more than a quarter of all paraplegic patients could benefit from the new technology, which is now being introduced in a number of hospitals across the UK.

Laura Hopperton

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