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Health Beat: High-tech, real-life rehab

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 01 2014 12:07:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 01 2014 04:38:00 PM CDT

When patients suffer a brain injury or fall, or they have balance issues, rehabilitation can make all the difference in their recovery. Now, that rehab is going high-tech.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -

It looks like a spacesuit, but Angelica is gearing up to use a new machine. The Vector helps patients like Angelica learn to walk again after an injury. She's recovering from a brain aneurysm.

"It keeps the patient from falling, so it builds a lot of confidence. This is one of the most exciting devices we've had in a very long time," said Dr. Alan Novick, of the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute in Hollywood, Florida.

Patients are fully supported. They can walk long distances and practice a normal gait by swinging their arms, something they can't do with a walker.

Therapists don't have to physically hold the patient up, so they can assist in other ways. It also allows patients to walk sooner after their injury.

"If I give somebody a walker, I'm already changing their pattern. With the Vector, I don’t need that walker," said Anna Maria Castaneda, a therapist at the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute.

The Vector can help any patient who experiences weakness. Some 1.7 million Americans suffer a brain injury each year. One in three older adults falls and about 15 percent of Americans have problems with balance or dizziness.

The institute also uses models like an ATM and a car to help patients with everyday activities they're likely to face when they return home. Patients practice getting in and out of the car and using the ATM.

It's high-tech and real-life therapy helping patients get back to everyday life.

Novick said the Vector can help patients with any kind of neurological injury or other conditions like Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, stroke or spinal cord injuries.

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