Many Las Vegas rehabilitation centers are ill-equipped to care of catastrophic injuries patients such as brain trauma victims and spinal cord injury sufferers. Dr. Tony Chin, the chief medical officer at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, has stated that when he moved to Vegas in the 1990s, rehab facilities were scarce; although more and more facilities have sprung up over the past 20 years, technological advancements remained where they were when he arrived—nowhere.
At least that was the case at the start of the year. Now, St. Rose has brought the 21st century to those who need it most—victims of catastrophic accidents.
The facility recently purchased three robotic rehab machines, an Erigo, a Lokomat, and an Armeo, and started things off right by affectionately naming them Apollo Zen, Optimus Yung, and Rosie Chern (respectively).
Each robot has its own unique function, which allows therapists to teach patients how to make precise, repetitive movements in order to develop their mobility and strength. The thought is that with repetition, patients will be able to learn movements in such a way that they will eventually become second nature, allowing them resume daily activities without having to think or struggle with each motion.
Bernie Miller, physical therapist and director of the hospital’s rehabilitation facility, stated that “the faster [patients] do these things (movements), the quicker their brains are able to reroute circuitry, and [become] able to improve their functions.”
- Apollo Zen is similar to a tilt table that gradually moves patients into an upright position so they can regain the strength to stand. The machine is equipped with robotic legs and electrical stimulation that assists in stabilizing blood pressure and blood circulation. Once patients’ circulation is controlled and they are able to stand comfortably for 20 minutes, they can then safely begin to perform the “mental memory” exercises.
- Optimus Yung then comes into play. Optimus is a robotic gait-training system which has harnesses that attach at the hips, knees, and ankles, and assists patients in being able to move forward on a treadmill. The harness moves up and down and side to side to simulate the natural “bob” of a walking person. After 30 minutes with Optimus, the patient is then transitioned to a walker to see if he can replicate the motions on his own.
- Rosie is used to increase upper body strength and motility. “She” provides stability while patients work on range-of-motion exercises in their shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
All three of the robots record sessions to allow patients to see and compare their progress from day to day.
Although the program is only a few months old, Chin and Miller have seen remarkable progress with their patients. If progress continues on this path, St. Rose will hopefully be transformed into Henderson’s own rehabilitation institute, with the purchase of more robots to provide a full spectrum of services from acute care to outpatient care.
We at Jones Wilson would like to congratulate Dr. Chin and Mr. Miller for their great success and perseverance in helping Vegas’ accident victims, and hope progress continues for expansion.