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Locomotor training can help people with spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries can affect every aspect of a person's life, but the effects of spinal cord injuries that occur now are managed in a very different manner than spinal cord injuries that occurred in the past. One of the technologies that is helping people with spinal cord injuries these days is locomotor training.

The goal of locomotor training is to help improve walking skills in people who have suffered a spinal cord injury, stroke, or brain injury, as well as those who are diagnosed with a neurological disorder. This type of training uses what is known about how the nervous system learns new skills and knowledge about step control.

Patients who have suffered a spinal cord injury, especially those who have incomplete injuries and those who have some muscle tone or movement in their legs, might benefit from locomotor training. There are three components of locomotor training --step training on a treadmill with body weight supports and manual help, over-ground walking, and community ambulation.

There is no guarantee that locomotor training will provide all patients with the same results, there are marked benefits to this therapy. Patients who use locomotion therapy might enjoy health benefits, such as a decrease in spasticity, improvements in glucose tolerance, and an increase in bone density. The cardiovascular system and pulmonary system might also improve with the movement this therapy encourages.

The therapies that might help spinal cord injury patients can be expensive. Patients with a spinal cord injury that was due to an accident caused by the negligence of another person may choose to seek compensation so they will be able to better afford the therapies that could help them live a better quality of life after the injury.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, "How Locomotor Training works," accessed Oct. 26, 2015

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