Lite Run recently won the Rehab Tech Innovation Competition at the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine 2018 conference for its air-powered “spacesuit” pants.
The Lite Run System is a device for the treatment of people with gait and balance difficulties. The gait trainer and “spacesuit” pants use air pressure to support the user’s body weight, while reducing the lifting burden for therapists. The pants are catered for individuals relearning to walk after having a stroke. Other uses for the device include people learning to walk after partial spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injuries.
The Lite Run System also includes a motorized walker that helps physical therapy patients gain balance as it moves forward. The device has straps that ensure the patient will not fall backwards and a set of moving arms to help a patient go from sitting to standing position.
The pants include a bladder that inflates with air to support the user in standing position. The pressurization in the air can counteract as much as half a person’s weight, so patients can start rehabilitation much sooner after their initial injury.
Physical therapists can also benefit from this device by eliminating the need to lift a patient. A screen on the walker gives clinicians control over how much weight they want to remove from the patient during therapy.
“Initially you might remove half their body weight, and later you might want to go down to 10 or 20 percent,” Lite Run President John Hauck said, according to Star Tribune.
Users retain mobility in their legs once the suit is pressurized. The pants are designed from layers of specialized fabric that control “tensile forces,” which is similar to the technology used in spacesuits that astronauts wear.
Recent clinical study results showed that patients spent more time upright during therapy, and had further distance traveled.
“Lite Run was an audience favorite, receiving the most audience votes. The judges also scored Lite Run as the best overall,” said Tracey Wallace, who chaired the LaunchPad Task Force. “All judges gave high marks to Lite Run as a new and unique way to address a rehabilitation problem with technology.”