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Special Tree Launches “ZeroG,” Robotic Body-Weight Rehab Support System

zerog therapy rehabilitation


ZeroG Gait and Balance System provides dynamic, body-weight support, mimicking falls to provide real-time biofeedback.

Special Tree is thrilled to announce the launch of a new, cutting-edge rehab support system to help patients relearn walking after traumatic injury. The system was installed at the NeuroCare Center in early June. Following extensive training, therapists began using the system almost immediately and it has been in steady use ever since. 

"We are already seeing an impact on our patients," shared Nicole LeBaron, Physical Therapy Assistant. "Without Zero G, it could take several therapists to help a person stand up and walk. With this new system, they are able to build the confidence needed to regain independence.." 

The ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System by Aretech is a robotic body-weight support system that allows individuals recovering from traumatic events such as a brain or spinal cord injury to participate in safe, high-intensity rehabilitation much sooner in the treatment process, igniting the body’s recovery.

ZeroG provides interactive balance programs and games, with biofeedback, challenging the patient physically and cognitively while teaching them how to anticipate a loss of balance. Without the risk of falling, patients have the confidence to push boundaries and practice functional and real-world activities such as walking, getting up from a chair or the floor, climbing stairs and doing squats.

“The more patients are able to get up to walk, the better their recovery results are going to be,” says Megen Allen, Special Tree Director of Therapy Services. “In recovery, patients who walk more than 1,400 steps per day have better outcomes.”

ZeroG harnesses fit every size. The system has a dynamic body-weight support that can offload a person’s weight by up to 200 pounds, making them feel lighter in a reduced gravity environment. This allows patients to practice therapy at high-intensity levels sooner after an injury than previously possible.

“You can work on all aspects of gait walking,” Allen says. “Floor transfers, sit-to-stand activities and advanced balanced activities. It does everything from the bare minimum of just getting off the floor to running sprints.”

Different gait patterns are characterized by differences in limb movement patters, overall velocity, forces, kinetic and potential energy cycles, and changes in the contact with the surface.

“When a patient falls, you can see if their natural reaction is there because the system catches them,” Allen adds. “It protects them from falling but reveals whether natural reflexes are kicking in.”

As an individual progresses, therapists can decrease the amount of support so the patient can function more under his or her own capabilities. And because the system protects patients from falling, therapists encourage patients to push their limits without fear.

“We’re excited to be first facility in Metro Detroit to offer this level of cutting-edge capability to help people heal faster,” says Special Tree Vice President & Director, Jack Richert. “We made this investment because it provides a better chance at recovery for our patients and allows us to explore better ways to help individuals function more independently at home, at work and in the community.”