Healthy Living Today: Vector Therapy - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Healthy Living Today: Vector Therapy

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A new piece of medical equipment is giving stroke and spinal-cord injury patients new hope by making it easier and safer for them to learn how to walk again.

The Vector Gait and Safety System is a robotic trolley system attached to a track on a ceiling with an attached harness that holds the patient.

"The vector really helps in two major ways, one of which is safety. It helps to ensure that when the physical therapist is working with a patient, they are safe from falling. Two, it allows the therapist to take on a patient who is more severely impaired, and therefore we can be more aggressive in our therapy early on," said neurologist Dr. Peter Gorman of the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute.

Gorman said the Vector is better than similar systems because it allows the patient to walk around freely, making turns even going up steps.

"You can put things on the floor for them to maneuver around, and I can even do things with him like have him fall on the floor and practice getting up, which happens to people as they're re-learning their walking skills. You can't do that on other pieces of equipment," said physical therapist Angie Davis.

"You don't have to be afraid. You can let go, and you're not going to get hurt, so you're not afraid to use your muscles. You can take a chance," said patient Louie Quiambao.

Quiambao is on the path to recovery. He's learning how to walk again after having what doctors called a spinal stroke in 2010 that left his legs partially paralyzed.

"I had no feeling. I had no movement, no bowel or bladder control, so they tried to jump-start my spinal cord using steroids. After a week, they decided that's probably not going to happen," Quiambao recalled.

He then started rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute, where he's currently an outpatient and works twice a week with his physical therapist using the Vector System.

After about two months, Quiambao said he has regained a lot of everyday functions. He can dress himself more easily, as well as stand on his own and support his own weight. He said he's well on his way to achieving his goal, which is "to get out of the wheelchair, function normally and not have to use the walker. Full recovery is my ultimate goal. I believe it can happen," he said.

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