Excerpted from the article "A Rehab Revolution," Stroke Connection Magazine, September/October 2004
Partially supported treadmill training helps survivors learn to walk again although neither their legs nor upper body can support them. Therapists hope this will rewire the brain so survivors can eventually make these movements on their own.
In treadmill therapy, the therapist places the survivor in a harness with their legs suspended over a treadmill. The harness eliminates the risk of falling. One therapist stands by the survivor and moves their affected leg forward on the treadmill to keep pace with the unaffected leg. A second therapist operates the treadmill.
The drawback is that this training requires two therapists, making it more expensive than conventional therapy. This type of treadmill training is available at large academic centers around the country like the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Task-specific therapy has been proven to enhance recovery, and this intervention provides this intensive task-specific therapy. We reported on the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in our first article. They are using body weight supported treadmill training both clinically and in research. Research is focusing on who will most benefit from this. Future studies will focus on combining this intervention with others to enhance motor recovery following a stroke.
Source: Jennifer Kahn, Physical Therapist, Rehabilitation Institute of