Vector helps rehab patients improve motion

CENTER CITY; February 17, 2014

"And put your other arm here," says the therapist, as he puts Wayne Riker into a harness.

That harness part of Vector, a new training device at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital.

A stroke left Riker with weakness on his left side.

He needs to practice walking, stepping, and shifting his weight over & over again.

Vector takes a lot of the weight off his feet, so he can slowly build up his strength with less fear of falling.

"There's no drag within the system.So, it keeps up with the patient," says Erin Blaustein, D.P.T., a physical therapist at Magee.

"If their legs completely give out, or they lose their balance, it will hold them up. It gives a patient a sense of confidence, and us a sense of confidence," she continues.

Riker describes his first session on Vector as, "Really sort of exhilirating."

Riker and his wife Virginia say it's a big improvement over sessions with a traditional walker.

"The therapists holding onto him had to be right there, every step, and be very careful in what he was allowed to do," says Virginia.

She adds, "He loves working with the Vector."

Therapists also say it's easier for them, allows more time for the patient to practice, and increases the intensity of the exercise. That can increase progress, while decreasing the time.

"We can get someone up and walking with only one person," says Blaustein.

"I was able to do a lot more exercises with a greater degree of stability," Riker says, beaming.

And therapists at Magee says the Vector is in -use pretty much all day. And more therapists are now learning how to use it, so that more patients can take advantage of the therapy.

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