Santa Cruz, California – Dignity Health Dominican Hospital is now offering a groundbreaking new option to patients recovering from brain or spinal cord injury.
The Ekso GT is a robotic exoskeleton that can be worn by patients, many of whom are suffering from weakness in their legs, to help them learn to walk again.
The unit, which costs approximately $180,000 and was funded entirely through private community donations to the Dominican Hospital Foundation, is a dynamic tool to address physical therapy gait retraining goals through patterning and reciprocal stepping. The device does not walk for patients. Instead, it provides only supplemental walking assistance as the patient needs.
At Dominican, the unit is being used primarily to help patients who have suffered a stroke, brain injury, or incomplete spinal cord injuries. These patients benefit from the Ekso GT on the hospital’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit in the initial weeks after injury, and then later in the outpatient therapy department.
Four Domincan Hospital physical therapists underwent an intensive, week-long training in December to become certified to use the device during therapy sessions. Thus far, the Ekso GT has been used on 14 patients as an adjunct to their rehabilitation.
Andrea Martin, a physical therapist at Dominican Hospital, says, “The Ekso GT is an amazing tool to teach persons with limited strength, sensation, and balance how to walk again.”