Locomotor Training is an innovative intervention that helps individuals with gait impairments. Boston Medical Center is proud to have the only Locomotor Treadmill in the Northeast Region. The technique is an activity-based therapy that works to retrain the spinal cord to "remember" the pattern of walking again. Locomotor Training includes use of body weight supported treadmill training, in which participants are suspended in a parachute-type harness over the treadmill. Once the treadmill begins moving, leg movements are manually assisted by therapists to help patients perform stepping movements on the treadmill. These movements are associated with a pattern of leg muscle activation that is generated by locomotor centers within the spinal cord. Assisted leg movements are necessary in order to stimulate the locomotor centers, within the spinal cord, to activate leg muscles that the patient cannot move voluntarily. The process assists individuals with certain types of neurological dysfunction improve their locomotor skills and eventually walking ability.
A side benefit of this training is that patients can become healthier. When they remain wheelchair users, patients frequently suffer from pulmonary and cardio-vascular problems, along with metabolic problems, diabetes, and muscle and bone loss. With Locomotor Training added to their fitness program, people experience better overall health and report a better quality of life.