University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS), a graduate institution that emphasizes health and rehabilitative sciences education through innovative classroom education, has announced the installation of SafeGait 360° Balance and Mobility Trainer® on its Austin, Texas campus. The device, which was designed in collaboration with experts in physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT), works to mitigate the risk of injury from falls, protecting both the patient and therapist.
According to USAHS, SafeGait 360°’s dynamic fall protection (DFP) distinguishes between a patient’s intentional downward movement and when a patient is actually falling, which allows therapists to easily modify fall protection sensitivity to accommodate and challenge patients at varying stages of independence.
SafeGait 360° is essential in providing advanced treatment solutions to a variety of patients, but especially patients who suffer from a neurological injury, such as a stroke, spinal cord injury, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury.
“My interest in using body-weight support systems to treat patients began when I was clinician,” said Elizabeth Ardolino, PT, MPT, MS, PhD, assistant professor of neurology and research, at USAHS and a physical therapist with more than 15 years of experience. “I was passionate about bringing SafeGait 360° to our institution because there is no equipment like this in the immediate Austin area. At USAHS, we are able to offer our expertise to people in our local community who need it most: patients with neurological injuries, geriatric patients, patients who have been discharged from traditional physical therapy treatments, and patients who may not have the health insurance benefits to cover extensive therapeutic care.”
In addition, the equipment will be used for research and to provide treatment for orthopedic patients and geriatric patients, who are at a risk for injury from falls.
“When someone suffers from medical issues or injuries and is learning to walk again, one of the top fears that comes to the individual is the fear of falling,” said Wanda Nitsch, MD, president and chief academic officer, USAHS. “With the innovative SafeGait 360°, those individuals can overcome this fear and gain the necessary confidence needed in their treatment plan. This technology is revolutionary and will provide our faculty and students with a great hands-on learning experience.”
At USAHS, many faculty members are planning to use SafeGait 360° to conduct research with both students and patients. It’s not just about having the equipment, it’s about knowing how to use it. USAHS faculty members have experience in using body-weight support equipment with patients, and have done previous research in body-weight supported treadmill training. Currently, students at USAHS work in Patient Oriented Integrated Neurological Treatment (POINT) labs, with real-life patients, at the guidance of their faculty members. Through the POINT labs, USAHS brings patients with neurological disorders into the classroom, where they are evaluated and treated by the students over a four week period.
SafeGait 360° features easy to use patient management software, which is an intuitive user interface allowing therapists to track and compare session and task data. Therapists can also create a plan of care that is specific to individual patient needs by choosing from an extensive list of transfer, gait and stair tasks, or customizing their own. The treatment options are aimed at challenging patients through setting goals, capturing rated perceived exertion (RPE) and measuring performance in real time.
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