As anyone who follows this blog knows, we are tech-crazy here at Magee – especially when it comes to robotics. In our search to find the latest and greatest technology to benefit our patients during rehabilitation, we discovered the Vector. We saw in action. And we knew we had to have it.
So here’s the part where you’re asking, “So what is the Vector and why is it such a big deal?” The Vector is a robotic gait training system — in other words, it’s walking with the help of a robot. Yeah, we told you it was cool.
The Vector allows orthopedic, neurologic and amputee patients to practice walking and balancing on solid ground without the use of an assistive device — and without the risk of falling. Because there is no fall risk, patients can get up on their feet much sooner than previously possible. And trust me – there is nothing greater than seeing a patient walk for the first time after coming to Magee.
Patients are strapped into a harness attached to an overhead track that wraps around our third floor gym. Unlike other track systems, the Vector uses a robotic trolley on a conductive rail that senses the patients’ movement and follows along — there is no pulling required. What’s even cooler is that it’s totally programmable based on the individual patient. Therapists can set the parameters for body weight support (the Vector would support less and less as the patient progressed) and fall limitations. Because the system allows the user to turn all directions (instead of straight forward like traditional tracks), patients can practice stepping, jogging, dancing, grapevining, whatever.
This isn’t just the first Vector in Philadelphia (which it is). Or even just the first in Pennsylvania (which it also is). Magee’s Vector system is the first in the northeast United States. It’s also the longest track in the WHOLE WORLD. You read that right. No one has a track longer than ours, giving our patients more opportunities and space for practice.
Staff have been trained on this system, and it is already in constant use. In fact, you know when someone is training on it when the sounds of clapping, laughter and excitement begin spreading through the floor. Who knew a robot could elicit such a beautiful human response? We had a feeling.
To learn more about this system, visit Bioness.com.