For Immediate Release
Contact: Derek Berry
Media Relations Manager
Washington, DC – APRIL 6, 2010 – The ZeroG™ gait and balance training system, a state-of-the-art over-ground body-weight support which helps treat stroke and brain injury patients in particular and developed by the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH), is now commercially available to rehabilitation and U.S. military hospitals across the U.S. This comes on the heels of a distribution agreement reached by Bioness Inc. and Aretech™ to market the device. ZeroG is a system that provides up to 300 pounds of unloading while patients practice walking, balancing and walking up and down steps.
This new technology, which was listed by the FDA last year, is the first-ever gait and balance assisted robotic technology developed at a U.S. rehabilitation hospital. NRH was the first to build it and use it. ZeroG was developed and invented with the help of NRH physical therapists and researchers from NRH’s Christoph Ruesch Research Center and Catholic University, under the direction of lead researcher Joe Hidler, PhD.
Hidler says the experience of walking in the ZeroG is similar to walking in a reduced gravity environment, similar to what walking on the moon might be like. ZeroG was also tested and refined by physical therapists at NRH in support of the clinical environment to help directly impact patient care. “There wouldn’t be a ZeroG today if it had not been for the collaboration of our research team and the physical therapists at NRH,” said John Rockwood, NRH President. “The device is truly a consistent model of bench to bedside research that directly impacts patient care.”
ZeroG is unique because when patients are attached to the device, they walk on their own, sometimes with the therapists’ help. If they begin to fall forward or backward, the device will catch them so they are not injured. The system monitors important patient information, which can then be reviewed by the therapist to track their patient’s recovery. Patients who have suffered a brain injury, stroke, incomplete spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders may benefit from ZeroG training. ZeroG is being installed in military hospitals around the U.S., to help brain injured soldiers who have returned from the field of combat. NRH physical therapists and researchers are conducting a study to determine the effectiveness of incorporating ZeroG into the daily physical therapy schedules of acute stroke patients.
National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) is a private, not-for-profit facility located in Northwest Washington, D.C. NRH’s services are designed specifically for the rehabilitation of individuals with disabling injuries and illnesses such as stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury and disease, arthritis, amputations, post-polio syndrome, chronic pain, back and neck pain, occupational injuries, cancer and cardiac disease that require medical rehabilitation, and other neurological and orthopedic conditions. NRH admits approximately 2,200 inpatients annually, has appeared on the “Best Hospitals” list in U.S. News & World Report for 15 consecutive years and is currently ranked among the top hospitals in medical rehabilitation in America. NRH has the only CARF accredited specialty program for both Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke in the region. In addition, NRH’s Spinal Cord Injury Program has been designated one of only 14 Model SCI Systems of care in the country by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a part of the Department of Education. NRH is a proud member of MedStar Health.