Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 24, 2012

Stillwater man to use new rehabilitation equipment

STILLWATER, Okla. — A Stillwater man who was paralyzed following an accident will have the chance to stand on his own two feet again with the help of a machine.

Wayne Prater undergoes rehabilitation at Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center in Oklahoma City. A new piece of equipment, named the LokoMat, recently was installed at the facility. Prater will get his opportunity to test it out Tuesday. Clinical Manager Dana DuRoy said the machine can be adjusted to accommodate a patient’s abilities.

“It’s a bionic system suspended over a treadmill,” DuRoy said. “It’s a computerized program, basically.”

The LokoMat at Jim Thorpe will be the second in the state. The $345,000 machine suspends the patient’s upper body by a swing and connects to hips, thighs and ankles. Handrails can also be used.

“It gives us a way to get a patient up and walking that we wouldn’t have been able to walk with before,” DuRoy said.

Another patient with Stillwater ties, Mary Beth Davis, will demonstrate a new piece of equipment Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Center will receive Aug. 3 — the Ekso Bionics.

The equipment is a full suit created by the U.S. Army and the University of California-Berkley.

“They originally created it for those who were injured and couldn’t walk,” DuRoy said.

The $130,000 piece of equipment can be used to help paraplegics.

“It’s completely passive so if any patient has any movement, it’s not going to help them walk, because it’s going to walk for them,” DuRoy said.

Davis will be trained to use the Ekso Bionics and demonstrate it at the Jim Thorpe Courage Award Gala on Aug. 25.

DuRoy said there are hopes it will eventually find its way from the rehabilitation centers to homes.

“They are trying to get a home unit FDA approved and it’s supposed to be out for home use in 2014,” DuRoy said.

Mentally, the ability to be upright and standing with both new pieces of equipment also helps a patient’s emotional and mental well-being, DuRoy said.

Prater uses a standing frame to get to his feet and put weight on his legs, but it’s a stationary item.

“This actually ambulates my legs,” Prater said. “I haven’t been able to (do that) since February. So it’s a huge deal for me.”

Prater was paralyzed after striking the bottom of a foam pit at a local tumbling gym, he said. The landing fractured one of his vertebrae.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” Prater said of the equipment test. “Ever since I found out that I was going to get to try it out, I’ve been looking at it online a lot. With this repetitive motion training, it offers a chance for nerves to connect in different ways.”

He said he’s seen it succeed with others. While it’s not a guarantee, he’s hopeful.

“It’s a huge thing for me right now,” Prater said. “It’s a huge hope.”

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