Utah Rehab Update – The Lokomat

I wanted to send out a quick update on the rehab I’ve been doing here in Utah. I’ve had a great time here so far, meeting the inspirational founder of this facility and a fantastic group of physical therapists who are some of the most knowledgable and experienced professionals in the field of Spinal Cord Injury Rehab. It’s also been great to meet some other SCI patients, all at various stages of recovery and some even on their feet, walking independently.

I always said that I didn’t care if I never met anyone else with my level of injury who had recovered, because I would still push myself endlessly to reach my goal, but I must admit that it’s relieving, motivating and inspiring to meet other people who broke the same vertebrae as me and are back on their feet. That said, one of the things I’ve learned here is that no two SCI patients are the same. Even though I’ve met a number of people here with the “same” injury as me, there are many unexplained phenomena in terms of each person’s respective challenges and their prospective recoveries.

Ok so let’s get right to the fun stuff. I’ve been able to do some new exercises and use state of the art equipment that I had not previously tried which has been pretty fun.

You ever wonder what one $350,000 piece of equipment looks like??? Well let me introduce you to the Lokomat:

This is a revolutionary machine for SCI rehab as it’s adjusted to the exact length and size of my legs not to mention that everything – from the amount of weight I’m bearing through my legs to sensing how much effort and movement I’m giving to the walking – is precisely measured and captured in a computer. Nearly everything can be adjusted and tweaked to suit the particular person and well, it’s just pretty damn cool. Yes I do look a bit like Robocop walking but it feels amazing to stand upright and have such a natural stepping feeling for the first time since my accident.

One more video, just to show you a different perspective. Here you can see two important things: 1) the screen in front of me which is basically a virtual reality depiction of me walking and my movement is reflected in the digital game 2) the mirror below the screen, showing my legs walking:

There are only a handful of these Lokomats throughout the US so I’m very fortunate to have access to this one while I’m here in Utah. Stay tuned for another update soon…

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52 thoughts on “Utah Rehab Update – The Lokomat

  1. I know that you still have a long way to go with your recovery… but I can see you GRIPPING the hand rails of the lokomat and then waving your hands around a little at the end with a smile on your face. I am impressed that you CAN do as much as you can do. I think that machine looks amazing, and if you are allowed to use it often enough your legs might just have no choice but to walk again on their own. I’m always very excited when I see a post from you because I am rooting for you (now, in Australia rooting has a very different connotation, but I am referring to the American one. lol). I’m really glad you have met others with similar injuries as yourself because I guess you may not have a feeling of aloneness so much now, knowing that many people fight the same battle as yourself. Well, until next time.

    1. Haha yeah I know the meaning of root as you used it. It has absolutely helped not to feel so alone by meeting other people and it has just been an eye opening experience overall. I’m really excited to be here and learn what I have so far. I think it can only help me in my recovery. Thanks again for your continued support and for reading the blog. -AB

  2. This is pretty awesome, Arash! As an engineer, you have to understand how much I can geek out on machines like this, too.
    We need to put you in contact with the folks at Berkeley Robotics so you can get test drive one of their exoskeletons and look like a real live Robocop.

    1. Dude as an engineer you would have no choice but to geek out on this thing. It’s really amazing. And I’ve already connected with Ekso Bionics if that’s who you’re talking about. I should be meeting up with them in the next couple weeks. Hope you’re well bro -AB

  3. Are you collecting cows? 🙂 There is nothing more uplifting and motivating than amazing equipment that makes things better!! Thank God for minds that are so brilliant to come up with such designs and the determination to see them through to completion! You look happy in the video and that in and of itself is a great thing! How very exciting!

    1. Haha yeah the game they had was of cows, not sure why they chose livestock but I went with it. Seriously, the minds that designed that machine are truly brilliant. I do feel happy when I’m on that machine. 🙂 -AB

  4. That’s awesome! I love the advances we’ve made in the medical field and that someone dreamed up and then created this machine – and then that it was there for you to use! I’m just so thrilled that you were able to be vertical and as always, sending good energy for your recovery!

  5. Yay. Your smile tells it all. The things modern technology can now help us do is truly amazing. I know that with your determination you will reach your goals.

  6. Wow! Looks like your trip is treating you well. I’m sure that machine is sending an amazing secret code to your brain and back …. Thanks for sharing , it’s so awesome to share the ups and ups of your recovery! Day by day, step by step 🙂

  7. Arash, it has been wonderful seeing another C5 SCI patient working side by side at Neuroworx! You are an inspiration because of your work ethic. You will definitely continue to make great strides. Sam Arishita

  8. Hi Arash! What an incredible experience this seems to be. I loved seeing your videos… These machines are fantastic. You are building neural-pathways, I believe….exactly what we were talking about. I am so glad you found this facility and have this opportunity. Will you be there for a while? Sending lots of love and warmest wishes ~ RL

  9. I have been following your amazing website and admiring how interesting and well written it is. When I first discovered you, as a fellow WordPress blogger, I sent your blog to a friend recovering from a massive stroke and she has found it inspirational. I also admire your insistence to not give in to anything but recovery. I think the lesson you teach a 66 year old woman is “Don’t just accept a doctor attributing ones physical limitation as just a symptom of age. There are different alternatives.” I think that is an important story on my blog pizzazzpast50.wordpress.com which is directed to women over 50. I will be linking to your inspirational story. Keep up the great work!

    1. Oh wow, if I inspired your friend in that way, I am quite flattered! Yes I’ve had a hard time with doctors and medical professionals trying to tell me what they think is right and wrong and I’ve frankly had it with them. They’re not helping me at all and it’s only the efforts of people who care about my injury that are contributing to my recovery. I’ve checked out your blog too. Happy writing! -AB

  10. Arash,
    Wow! I am so jazzed you are in Utah. I had no idea, and then I saw a sign advertising Utah near my office in SF today and I thought about my drive there to get here. I also thought about how much I want to go back. Now I read your post and I am thrilled to hear this. Some good news from our world: Juliet accepted the job at Stanford so we will certainly be here waiting for you when you return :-0
    Keep kicking ass Cap’n!

    1. Thanks bro. It’s been great to be out here. It really is a beautiful place here. I had forgotten how much I love the mountains surrounding the city. Just seeing those had made me happy. So happy you’re staying in the Bay! Fantastic news bro. Can’t wait to celebrate -AB

  11. Arash: We’ve met briefly at SCI Fit, and I was intrigued when you told me there a couple of weeks ago about your trip to Utah. I understand from the folks at SCI Fit that you will probably be back there next week; I hope we meet up again, as I would really like to speak with you again in depth about your experience at Neuroworx. Just hearing about it from you before you left inspired me to investigate it more for myself, so I’ll be anxious to really get your sense of it. I found out about your (amazing!) blog here, when I inquired of the SCI Fit staff how I might try to contact you. Welcome home, and hopefully see you again soon in Pleasanton. Courage. -Tom H.

    1. Great to hear from you Tom. I’d be happy to tell you more about my experience in Utah. It was really fantastic and I highly recommend it if you’re interested. Hopefully I’ll see you this week at SCI FIT and we can chat about it then. Best to you my friend -AB

      1. Thanks and welcome home, Arash. good to see you back at SCI Fit yesterday, and appreciate the opportunity to connect with you about your experiences/discoveries in general, and specifically wrt Neuroworx. My own current plan is to continue work at SCI Fit for the next 4-6 weeks and then head to Shepherd in Atlanta for a couple of weeks. Since discovering Neuroworx from you, my interest is definitely piqued to consider looking into for myself, probably after Atlanta.
        As I mentioned to you at the gym yesterday, since my own accident in June, 2012, I’ve become acquainted with Marilyn Hamilton (who actually ends up being a neighbor of mine here in Carmel, and has become a friend and mentor to me in just the past several months!). She’s an amazing woman and has been incredibly gracious and generous to me in my own “journey” to date; I encourage you to learn more about her from her website – http://www.marilynhamilton.com. I’ve told her about meeting you through SCI Fit and referred her to your own blog. Marilyn is very switched on, and maintains an incredible network of resources, as a para/consumer herself, and as an entrepreneur, and member of numerous boards and advisory committees; she is and always has been a very progressive, aggressive and “outside-the-box” force in approaching spinal cord injury recovery for herself, and as I’ve already stated, she’s incredibly generous and gracious about helping others in any way she can. I whole-heartedly encourage you to connect with her, and do not hesitate to use my name, if you wish.
        Also, want to follow-up with the insurance info I mentioned to you yesterday – the California Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (“PCIP” – website: http://www.pcip.ca.gov), which is part of the recent ACA (“Obama-care”) legislation. I’ve had some good experience with it in getting others enrolled, and am fairly impressed with its coverage and the way it is managed, from what I’ve seen. It’s not cheap, but as I recall, it’s very good coverage with specific deductibles and no annual or lifetime limits, so makes long-term planning and budgeting a bit easier. I’m not sure, but another possible problem with PCIP may be that you have to have been without any insurance for a period of time to qualify for it, so if you already have – even bad – insurance, you may not want to risk letting it lapse in order to qualify for PCIP. Also, not sure if you’ve considered SS disability, but you may qualify for this, which I believe then makes you eligible for Medicare which you can then backstop with a good, reasonably-priced supplemental insurance as well. I’m still navigating this option for myself and finding the initial bureaucracy of it quite frustrating. Regardless of your final insurances coverage(s), I’m sure you’ve also already found some of your best resources in helping navigate them are doctors and insurance agents who are willing to work with you and doggedly on your behalf. They typically know all the appropriate codes and language to use to not let the insurance companies get away with their usual, initial rejections.
        Anyhoo, hope this helps you in some way(s). I can tell from just our brief and limited encounters at SCI Fit that you have the spirit and drive to successfully achieve all your personal goals, even as you inspire, encourage and provide hope to many more in your path. I appreciate your openness to share of your own experience and wisdom, and wish you all good things along the way. Cheers & peace. -Tom

  12. Sorry it’s taken me so long to comment on this! That first video is so awesome! You look so natural. I’m so glad you got to go to Utah, Arash… The second video is awesome, too. I can see your triceps 😉 But, seriously. Really glad you got this opportunity. Press on, friend.

  13. Amazing equipment.
    You are lucky to have access to them.
    (sorry to hear the Dr’s have been lacking in support. I hate the ‘one size fits all’ approach of many of them. I guess with the usual workload that many Doctors face these days, it must be hard for them to be compassionate, despite maybe feeling how much they wanted to help people before they started their medical training.
    I think all health professionals should have an extra year learning how to ‘Listen’ (as well as diagnose and offer a prognosis).
    Best Wishes
    Vicki (alias Victoria).

    1. To be honest I don’t even see the doctors that often, but it’s more of an institutional ignoring of my situation that affects me more on an everyday basis. I agree that they should all do better in listening. -AB

  14. I was in a wheelchair for well over a year. I went to mary freebed rehab hospital near my home in michigan and they had this amazing piece of machinary. it helped getting the muscles in my legs firing again. after using this for 10 weeks and multiple rehab sessions per day i left mary freebed after 13 weeks of rehab walking. it all started off with the lokomat.

    1. Sounds good and yes I’ve used a lokomat just once. Problem is they’re hard to find and very limited and expensive to use so I’ll have to wait until I get a better opportunity to use one. -AB

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