San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 21st, 2011
Texas State physical therapy program acquires arm robot

STAFF REPORT

The Balance and Gait Training Program at Texas State University is set to become one of the top centers for rehabilitation training in the state with the acquisition of the InMotion Arm Robot.

Rehabilitation Medical Products of Austin facilitated the donation of the state-of-the-art device by Interactive Motion Technologies of Massachusetts.

The arm robot will be a boon to patients suffering hemiparesis—significant weakness on one side of the body—due to stroke or brain injury, said Denise Gobert, professor in the Department of Physical Therapy. Texas State will boast the only rehab clinic in Texas featuring the advanced robotics.

“This robot will allow a patient to practice using motion to strengthen their weak arm,” Gobert said. “To become a physical habit, the motion has to be repeated 10,000 times. The InMotion Arm Robot gives us the opportunity for mass practice.”

The successful Balance and Gait Training Program has already seen dramatic results in the area of lower-body rehabilitation. With reciprocal trainers and harness treadmills, participants in the regimen have not only recovered the ability to walk, but several can now also run, Gobert said. The program’s biggest shortcoming was a lack of upper extremity rehabilitation—something the arm robot rectifies.

“The patient is forced to use their weak limb with the robotic arm. It also helps them with hand squeezing,” she said. “It works by augmenting the strength of the person doing the exercise, but it resists unproductive movements” so that patients don’t fall into bad habits that could hamper their recovery.

The arm robot will be delivered Aug. 15 and be fully operational by Aug. 24, the start of the fall semester. Department of Physical Therapy students in the teaching clinic will learn to evaluate patients and work with the InMotion Arm Robot. Qualifying rehabilitation patients will be eligible for grant-funded physical therapy twice a week for up to 12 weeks free of charge. 

For additional information on the Balance and Gait Training Program, contact Denise Gobert, Department of Physical Therapy at (512) 245-8351 or via email at dgobert@txstate.edu.

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