“When I am on the Gait Trainer, I might feel my body getting ready to slow down, and yet the gait trainer keeps my brain aware that my feet should keep going,” explains Fran.
Fran had been coming to Body in Balance in Linwood, New Jersey for years, first just for the support group, then the exercise program and various group exercise classes. Her therapy sessions, strength training, boxing and balance classes help her through the limitations she experiences because of Parkinson’s disease.
“My left side is affected by Parkinson’s disease, and sometimes my left foot feels like it’s in cement. My brain is telling my body that it wants to move, but my feet just do not respond,” says Fran.
Physical therapist Eleanor (“Ellie”) Hagan oversees the busy New Jersey practice that has expanded to dominate two floors of a building. Since their inception, the Biodex™ Mobility package has helped Ellie to efficiently rehabilitate a wide range of patients, and keep patients like Fran coming back.
Technology Designed for Patient Engagement
A few years ago, Body in Balance added a new Biodex Gait Trainer™ 3 treadmill system with music enhancement to their technology suite. With a range of music integration – from specially composed neurological music to Spotify gait training playlists – the Gait Trainer treadmill is an effective tool to help rehabilitate a diverse population of patients with mobility issues. As the first biomedical system to incorporate music in this way, it also helps to differentiate Body in Balance from the competition.
Fran was first introduced to the music-enhanced Biodex Gait Trainer treadmill as part of her evaluation. She claims her ability to move is totally different when she uses the Gait Trainer system, and she praises the combination of visual biofeedback and rhythmic music.
“It shows a little diagram of where your feet should be and at what pace you should be walking. It gives you a regular musical beat to keep up with.”
To encourage proper step cadence and length, sensors under the treadmill track of the Gait Trainer device detect precisely where and when each foot strikes. Each footfall is displayed in real time on a large LCD display in front of the patient so they can see and correct any differences between the left and right sides.
The Gait Trainer 3 software records and stores each patient’s performance history, from assessment through each therapy session – and can map patient performance against comparable healthy populations.
Ellie explains, “While we originally believed our new music-enabled Gait Trainer would see principal use with neuro patients, today, we evaluate almost every referred patient with a gait and balance issue on it.”
Stepping Up the Rhythm for Every Patient
While a lengthy history of research shows outcomes improved when rhythmic music was used during therapy, Biodex’s combination of therapist-informed music and a biomedical system is a first in neurological rehab.
Ellie continues, “Many doctors send us patients with just a prescription for balance training, or gait evaluation and training. We put almost every patient on the music-enhanced Biodex Gait Trainer 3 because once they’re on it, and we turn on the music, we see that their posture improves, and their gait and cadence increases.”
Fran feels the Gait Trainer treadmill system does more than just keep her in rhythm; it makes it so that she wants to keep in rhythm.
“It’s like mind over matter, you listen to the music and keep up with the rhythm of the music. It’s very effective.”
Fran is one of the many patients who have observed that she retains the effects of the gait training with music, even when a session on the Biodex system ends. With her mind still on the rhythm, her feet can keep that rhythm when she walks over ground.
“I’m very happy with the results,” says Ellie.
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|Stephanie Viola, Manager, Content Strategy
Biodex Medical Systems, Inc.