September 8, 2023
September is Spinal Cord Injury Month, serving as a crucial reminder of the challenges faced by individuals with SCI and the importance of support, research, and rehabilitation efforts. During this month, organizations, medical institutions, and communities come together to raise awareness about spinal cord injuries, promote prevention, and offer support to those living with SCI.
St. Mary’s Hospital for Children’s Locomotor Training Program:
Located in Bayside, New York, St. Mary’s Hospital for Children has been at the forefront of providing comprehensive care and innovative programs for children with complex medical conditions. One of their remarkable initiatives is the Locomotor Training Program, which offers hope to children and young adults with spinal cord injuries.
The Locomotor Training Program at St. Mary’s is a state-of-the-art rehabilitation program that focuses on helping children regain mobility and independence after sustaining a spinal cord injury. It uses a specialized treadmill equipped with a bodyweight support system and/or Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) to facilitate the stepping movements or standing in children with SCI. This cutting-edge technology, combined with expert guidance from therapists and healthcare professionals, helps children improve their strength, balance, and walking ability.
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 can gain trunk control, functional mobility, and/or independent ambulation. While the ultimate goal is ambulation, locomotor training studies have reported potential benefits, including improved mobility, enhanced cardiovascular and/or respiratory function, increased blood flow, and better bone health. These positive changes may improve psychological well-being and overall quality of life for the patient and caregivers.
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 consists of 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.
In honor of Spinal Cord Injury Month this September, we should highlight organizations like St. Mary’s Hospital for Children that provide life-changing care for children with spinal cord injuries. St. Mary’s offers the chance for children with SCI to reclaim mobility and independence through its Locomotor Training Program and Spinal Cord Injury Program.
For more information about St. Mary’s Locomotor Training Program, click here.