Imagine paraplegic patients with as severe injuries as complete paralysis of lower limbs to be able to independently stand up and walk both indoors and outdoors simultaneously exercising power assisted gait training.
According to the International Spinal Cord Society, over 2.6 million people in the world suffer from spinal cord injury (SCI). Each year only in the United States about 12,000 persons, mostly young adults, sustain SCI. Recent surveys of patient lift and mobility technologies show that, despite of well developed equipment for patient mobility, there are only limited wheelchair exercise devices available and none are attached to wheelchairs to provide partial weight bearing toward lower limb rehabilitation. Also, there are limited patient lift devices on the market and none have intelligent capability to navigate. Lowering or, ideally, eliminating any need in caregivers is another issue to be addressed in design of assistive devices. When using such devices, patients with lower back disabilities usually require assistance, especially during loading and unloading processes. That imposes physical exertion onto caregivers resulting in frequent injuries. Statistically, each third nurse gets injured while moving non-ambulatory patients.
WalkRoller is a powered mobile lifting, gait training and omnidirectional rolling apparatus for personal use that addresses the above issues. It revolutionizes rehabilitation technologies by drastically lowering a need in assistance and providing patients with ability to stay in suspended upright position and move in any direction simultaneously exercising synchronized power assisted gait training which reproduces natural walk. The device dramatically increases independence and allows paraplegics to perform everyday tasks while exercising power assisted gait training at home, rehab facility or outdoor settings. This is achieved by integrating key functions of powered gait orthoses, patient lift and mobility devices.
WalkRoller consists of a “U”-shaped frame, two powered gait training devices, a powered user lifting device, a user suspension sling, four powered omnidirectional mecanum wheels, two stabilizing outriggers and means of control located on the main panel and hand grips of the lifting device. The apparatus is also equipped with means of remote control including a pivoting camera and a hand held remote control unit. WalkRoller can lift the user from a floor, wheelchair or any elevated surface.
To operate WalkRoller, the user fits the sling on his torso, remotely brings the apparatus to his location and calls “ready for loading” command. In result, the outriggers extend to add more stability, the gait training devices move back and the lifting frame also tilts back. Then the user securely attaches driving shoes of the gait training devices to his feet and the sling to the lifting device. Then he grabs hand grips of the lifting device and calls “finish loading” command to get lifted into ready for walking position. During assisted walking, translation of WalkRoller is synchronized with movement of the gait training devices in order to reproduce walk of a human, and flexible shoe soles make it even more natural. WalkRoller can move in any direction, turn in motion, rotate within its length and instantaneously change direction.