|ZeroG is a revolutionary body-weight support system that rides along a driven trolley attached to an over-head rail system.|
The National Rehabilitation Hospital recently began clinical testing of the first-ever dynamic over-ground bodyweight support system, called ZeroG. Developed in the laboratories of the Center for Applied Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Research (CABRR) and funded by the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the U.S. Army, the system allows individuals with gait impairments to safely practice over-ground walking in a well-controlled environment.
Unfortunately, there have been limited technologies available to allow therapists to safely train their patients to perform overground walking, particularly in the early stages of recovery. Successfully delivering intensive and safe gait therapy to individuals with significant walking deficits presents the greatest challenge to even the most skilled therapists.
In the acute stages of many neurological injuries such as stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, individuals often exhibit highly unstable walking patterns and poor endurance, placing them at high risk for falls. Most over-ground body-weight support systems do not provide dynamic body-weight support, can only be used over smooth, flat surfaces and are not able to navigate obstacles, such as stairs or uneven terrain. They are also so heavy that therapists must control their own movements. As a result, the quality of gait training sessions is severely limited.
Recognizing these limitations, the ZeroG dynamic over-ground body-weight support system was developed within CABRR, working in collaboration with physical therapists at NRH. The research team incorporated extensive training features into the ZeroG system that facilitate early, intensive gait training in individuals with all levels of gait impairments.
A clinical version of ZeroG will be installed at NRH this fall, in a location that will be accessible to all NRH therapists. By the end of the year, a system will be installed at Walter Reed Army Hospital to be used by soldiers with amputations and traumatic brain injury.