Ekso Bionic Exoskeleton Benefits Arms, Shoulder and Hands
Since being selected in 2012 as one of the first sites in the U.S. to receive the Ekso bionic exoskeleton, Good Shepherd has become a world leader in use of the device, with patients recently reaching the million step milestone, the most of any facility in the world.
The wearable robotic device was originally intended to help patients with lower body paralysis stand and walk, but we are thrilled to see functional benefits to upper body extremities, such as shoulders, arms and hands, as well.
How does a device that is designed to help patients walk benefit the upper body? The answer is simple: balancing, while standing and walking, helps to restore function to the shoulders, arms and hands. When you stand, you use different upper body muscles than you do when you sit. Standing:
- Causes your shoulders to extend backward and your chest to rise
- Allows your arms to drop and turn outward
- Engages the muscles in the back of your arms
- Enables your elbows to extend fully
- Relaxes your hands and fingers and allows them to rotate
- Improves overall posture
Without the exoskeleton, therapists have to manually situate the patient in an upright position. With the device, we can create a more natural posture, and patients can remain in that position for longer periods of time.
Perhaps most exciting – the exoskeleton enables us to get patients on their feet very shortly after a stroke or brain injury. This allows patients to use their muscles in the correct alignment and prevents them from developing “bad habits” that we would need to resolve later. The more we push muscles to do what they are supposed to do right away, the more complete the recovery.
Although we are only in the infancy of using this technology to improve upper body mechanics, therapists at Good Shepherd are encouraged by the results we have witnessed so far. Years ago we taught patients how to compensate for deficits. Today, we teach them to use their whole body to achieve a fuller recovery.
Good Shepherd is currently using three Ekso exoskeletons in both the outpatient and inpatient settings at its Allentown campus.
To learn more, call 1-888-44-REHAB (73422) or click here to contact us.