Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center Pushes Therapy Boundaries with ZeroG

The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute has installed a ZeroG harness system for gait and balance therapy. It is the latest device in Barrow’s line-up of robotics for neuro-rehabilitation.

ZeroG, created by Aretech, provides dynamic bodyweight support to patients as they practice different tasks. These include walking, balancing, climbing stairs, sitting down, and standing up. Additionally, its fall protection features allow patients to practice these activities in a safe and controlled environment.

The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation provided most of the funding for the device, which was installed on Oct. 11. We are grateful to The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation for their many years of support of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.

Unlike traditional ceiling-mounted harness systems, ZeroG features a motorized robotic trolley. This technology allows the harness to move with patients as they walk, instead of dragging behind them. It also moves with patients vertically, enabling sit-and-stand maneuvers.

Fall Protection Features Allow for Safer Therapy, Better Outcomes

To prevent falls, ZeroG locks into a static hold when a patient exceeds the allowable range of movement set by their therapist. It also activates when the patient descends too quickly. The device monitors patient movements at 1000 times per second.

“These safety features allow therapists to challenge patients in new ways and have the potential to improve patient outcomes,” said Barrow Outpatient Neuro-Rehabilitation Manager Nathan West, DPT. “Research has found that patients learn through making mistakes and recovering. This system allows us to let patients make mistakes and recover without intervening too soon.”

ZeroG also provides real-time feedback regarding a patient’s movements. Physical therapists can use this data to assess their patient’s abilities and to continue to challenge the patient. Therapists can also store and export this data to track their patient’s progress over time.

“We are excited to have the ZeroG balance system in our outpatient rehabilitation department,” said Holly Shill, MD, director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. “This system allows our patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders to do more intensive physical therapy without fear of falling, which can improve their outcomes.”