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Pediatric NeuroRecovery PowerStep

An idea has become reality for children with spinal cord injury

Researchers at the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC) and clinicians at Frazier Rehab Institute use ‘locomotor training’, a therapy designed to access the ‘smart’ spinal cord, even below the injury in paralyzed children to help them recover the ability to sit, stand, and in some instances, even walk again.

The spinal cord, much like the brain, is a sophisticated network of neurons that can receive and synthesize information and make movement decisions. This team has been able to achieve results in children with spinal cord injury that have not historically happened, as far as rehabilitation outcomes. Now Dr. Behrman of KSCIRC and the team of pediatric physical therapists have a new tool – a treadmill and body weight support system designed specifically for children with neurological problems to help them recover through ‘locomotor training’.

Pediatric PowerStepDr. Behrman teamed with Dr. Tommy Roussel, a University of Louisville Bioengineering Professor, with funding from the Coulter Translational Partnership, designed and developed a specialized treadmill and harness system to meet not only the needs of children age 18 months to 12 years receiving the therapy, but also the adults delivering the intervention. Key features include:

  • An unobstructed view by the child.
  • Free access by therapists to engage the child.
  • A 14” wide treadmill allowing easy access by therapists and trainers to children.
  • An overhead body weight support system sensitive to 25 to 125 lbs.
  • Crane lifts and rotates to place the child on/off the treadmill.
  • New lightweight pediatric harnesses decreases trunk support as the child’s trunk control improves.

Engineering this equipment for children has made it more effective to provide locomotor training for children and allowed children to participate more easily, both readily advancing outcomes for children. Power NeuroRecovery is distributing the new pediatric equipment: treadmill with body weight support and harnesses for use in therapy facilities nationwide.

Announcing the groundbreaking Pediatric PowerStep were University of Louisvile President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center’s Dr. Andrea Behrman, UofL Bioengineering Professor Thomas Roussel, and Jennifer Nachreiner, mother of a child who uses the pediatric locomotor training system.


Watch the video and see the groundbreaking invention in operation.

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