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The Locomotor Training Clinic at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital is offering a comprehensive therapy program for ambulation training. "Locomotor Training" is a rehabilitative approach for persons with neurologic dysfunction that has been researched and proposed to affect a patient's functional abilities, recovery of walking and community ambulation. This inpatient or outpatient intervention is based on current knowledge of how the brain and spinal cord control stepping and how the nervous system learns (or relearns) a motor skill. Present studies are also being conducted to look at the effect of this intervention on overall health, including cardiovascular functioning, bone density and spasticity.

The systematic approach of Locomotor Training consists of three primary components to retrain the nervous system to walk:

  1. Step training using body weight support on a treadmill (BWST) and manual assistance,
  2. Overground walking training, and
  3. Community ambulation training.

Therapy sessions include time spent retraining on the BWST system, and transposing the skills practiced on the treadmill to the overground environment and into functional skills (ambulation, transfers, self-care activities, etc.).  Magee offers both a robotic (Lokomat by Hocoma) and/or manually facilitating (Therastride by Innoventor) locomotor training therapy options, dependent upon the person’s needs.

Magee's experience with Locomotor Training led to an opportunity to be one of two founding members of the NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) sponsored by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (CDRF) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The mission of this network is to create a system of specialized centers designed to provide standardized activity-based rehabilitation therapy to individuals with incomplete spinal cord injury, based on current scientific and clinical evidence. The NRN is initially fostering manually assisted Locomotor Training. Magee continues to be a lead site for the NRN for regional trainings, protocol development, database collection and dissemination of evidence-based findings.

At this time, referrals for outpatient therapy using Locomotor Training are being accepted for individuals with any neurologic dysfunction. Anyone referred to this clinic must be evaluated for appropriateness and medical stability prior to initiating this intervention. All standard outpatient therapy procedures will be followed. Those interested should contact the Magee Riverfront facility (215-218-3900) for further information, or use the NeuroRecovery Network link through the Reeve Foundation (www.christopherreeve.org) website, to initiate communication with our outpatient Locomotor Training Clinic.