Shumacher's Therapy involves Robotic Bed with Electrodes

When you were a kid you may have had a race car bed. Now race ace Michael Schumacher has his very own robotic bed that could help him get back behind the wheel of a race car -if he weren’t retired, that is. This rehabilitation device is called Erigo and it is produced by Zurich-based medical technology company Hocoma. Its mechanism of action is a combination of gradual verticalization with cyclic leg movement and loading to provide the safety required for the patient’s stabilization in an upright position. At the same time, functional electrical stimulation, or FES, enhances the therapeutic effects.

Benefits of the Erigo include:

  • Safe solution for early mobilization.
  • Counteraction of the negative effects of immobility.
  • Acceleration of the healing process.
  • Increased cardiovascular output with cyclic leg loading.
  • Enhanced orthostatic tolerance.
  • Improved patient awareness.
  • Decreased time in acute care.
  • Superior clinical usability.

How it works

1.       The bed’s gradual verticalization puts the patient back in an upright position and adds robotic movement therapy by means harnesses and steel arms that help move the legs as if the person is walking. As a result, even patients in a vegetative state can be safely and intensely trained.

2.       The movement of the robotic and physiological leg allows for a cyclic load on the patient’s legs and feet.

3.       The nerve terminals of several muscles are stimulated with electricity conveyed through electrodes placed on the skin. This muscular stimulation is synchronized with the joint movement performed by the robotic elements.

 Safety and active stimulation is essential in early rehabilitation of neurological patients. The Erigo bed is ideal for the early and safe mobilization of seriously impaired, bed-ridden patients even in acute care, such as Michael Schumacher. It’s important to note that even though Schumacher does currently experience periods of consciousness that can last several hours, the bed is actually doing all the work for the time being; in other words, the device moves the patient and not the other way around. Moreover, while he is breathing on his own, he’s not able to interact or communicate -later on he might be able to communicate by blinking, à la Monsieur Noirtier de Villefort in The Count of Montecristo, albeit with the corresponding technological advances. Despite his physical and mental limitations, there surely will be no shortage of caregivers to tend to Michael’s every need.

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