Therapists at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitation use the latest technology to help children and teens recover from injuries or disorders that have hindered their motor skills. For Adam, the center is helping him manage the limited mobility that comes with cerebral palsy, a congenital movement disorder that affects the muscles, balance and posture.
Adam and his family moved to Atlanta from Egypt in 2011 to be closer to better treatment options for his cerebral palsy. “I’d heard wonderful things about Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,” said Amany, his mother. Soon after arriving, Adam underwent two intensive hip surgeries at Children’s and then began regular physical therapy. Doctors noticed, however, his condition wasn’t improving. Together, Adam’s care team and Amany decided that the new robotic therapy available at Children’s would be beneficial to him.
Starting in November of 2015, Adam began robotic therapy two to three times a week. Though the center offers more than a dozen specialized pieces of technology to help patients, Adam’s therapy concentrated on two main pieces of equipment. The first was the bioness vector, a harness training system that provides body-weight support as a patient practices walking or balancing, automatically adjusting according to the patient’s movement.
“Adam primarily uses his wheelchair for day-to-day mobility, so being able to use the harness to help him get on his feet and walking was a great motivator,” said Erin Eggebrecht, PT, DPT, NCS, Clinic Specialist at the center.
While in the harness, patients are safe from falls or slips, providing an extra boost of confidence. Adam also used the functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike, a machine that develops function through repetition and biofeedback. Small wires attached to his legs use electrical currents to help stimulate nerves. The FES bike enabled Adam to work on both the strength of his legs and his range of motion. “These machines set him free,” Amany said. And, for a few moments each week, he can do activities that other kids take for granted like walking, jumping or playing basketball.