Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

The mission of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children’s Locomotor Training Program aims to improve function and reduce the limitations of children with paralysis by promoting mobility and age-appropriate activities to enhance the quality of life for the child and their families.

What is Locomotor Training?

Locomotor Training (LT) is an intensive individualized therapy program that improves function in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and other neurological diagnoses.

The interventions in this program focus on sending appropriate sensory cueing to the nervous system in a systematic way so that it can re-train tasks such as sitting upright, standing, and walking.

This activity-based training includes three primary components- step trainingoverground training, and community integration activities. During step training, the patient walks in a body weight-supported treadmill system with manual assistance from trained staff including physical therapists and technicians. The goal of this training is repetitive, task-specific practice to activate the neuromuscular system below the level of spinal cord injury. Overground training may include activities that focus on sitting, standing or overground walking with appropriate kinematics (proper body alignment with the least amount of compensation). During the community integration component, the Locomotor Training staff implements a plan with the patient and family to best maximize their gained functional skills outside of therapy.

Locotmotor, LT

Goals of Locomotor Training

Based on current research on how the brain and spinal cord learn a new skill and how stepping is regulated, patients may be able to make gains in trunk control, functional mobility, and/or independent ambulation.  While the ultimate goal is ambulation, studies involving locomotor training have reported potential benefits, including improved mobility, enhanced cardiovascular and/or respiratory function, and increased blood flow, and better bone health. These positive changes may enhance psychological well-being and overall quality of life for the patient and caregivers.

Program Approach

Physical therapists and other clinicians trained in Locomotor Training develop an individualized treatment plan for each child.  LT includes 90-minute sessions five days a week for a minimum of 60 sessions.   Each session includes 60 minutes in a bodyweight supported system over a treadmill, and 30 minutes of functional activities off the treadmill. This protocol is rooted in science and translated to clinical practice.

Christopher & Dana Reeve foundation

NeuroRecovery Network (NRN)

St. Mary’s Hospital for Children’s Locomotor Training Program is recognized as a Pediatric NeuroRecovery Network Clinical Center.

Who is a Candidate?

A child who meets the following criteria:

  • Has a diagnosis of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) through traumatic injury and/or infarct, Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM).
  • Ages toddlers (>11 months) to young adults
  • Has not had tendon lengthening or Botulinum Toxin injections within the past six months
  • Can tolerate supported standing for an hour
  • Is deemed medically stable by the interdisciplinary team

How Do I Get Started?

  • Fill out the inquiry form, which will be sent directly to our team
  • You can also call Sonya Kaur, Project Coordinator at 718-281-8987
  • Within five business days, a member of our team will reach out to you to complete a phone screening

What is the Admissions Process?

Our admissions team will review the below in order to deem candidacy into the program:

  • All medical records
  • Insurance information
  • Current program capacity and waitlist

If My Child is Admitted, What Should I Expect?

  • A full two-day evaluation is completed of each patient that is admitted into the program which involves assessment both on and off of the treadmill. This evaluation is repeated every 20 sessions to track progress during the episode of care.
  • The Locomotor Training Program is an intensive therapy program and therefore will challenge your child. They will be monitored closely and given breaks as needed, but the team’s aim is to make every session as productive as possible. The LT team strives to establish a respectful, positive environment to increase the child’s confidence while achieving therapeutic goals.
  • We ask that a parent or guardian stays with their child throughout the 90-minute session, five days per week

Meet Luke

Watch the video to learn more about St. Mary’s and our Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program. The video features St. Mary’s patient Luke participating in Locomotor Training and his amazing road to recovery.

Contact Information

St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Program
Project coordinator:
Sonya Kaur: 718-281-8987

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