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Exoskeleton helps DHR Health become the only "center of excellence" in Texas

HR Health celebrated Wednesday when it became the only healthcare facility in Texas and the fifth in the U.S. to be named a "Center of Excellence" for its wearable and robotic exoskeleton.

The manufacturer, Ekso Bionics, awarded DHR Health for the exoskeleton that acts as a rehabilitation technology - the EksoNR, a robotic exoskeleton that patients who have suffered a stroke, brain or spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis can wear to help with their physical rehabilitation.

"We are very pleased to be the first and exclusive titleholder of this certification in Texas," Dr. Saroja Viswamitra said in a statement.

Viswamitra is the director of physical medicine and rehabilitation at DHR Health.

"This remarkable achievement demonstrates DHR Health's commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of the people we serve in the region and across our great state," Viswamitra added.

The hospital system received the award after meeting criteria including researching and clinically using the EksoNR, collaborating with Ekso Bionics on exoskeleton advocacy and educational events, using the latest rehabilitation technology and staffing a Level 3 trained physical therapist.

The exoskeleton helps increase a patient's strength and assist them in rehabilitation and relearning how to walk.

"... The device promotes early mobilization and can help improve gait speed and distance, which are critical factors for optimal recovery," said Dr. Michael Auer, director of DHR Health's Neurotherapy Institute, in a statement. "Our goal is to optimize patient outcomes at every stage of care."

Yvette Rangel, a former DHR Health physical therapy assistant, credits the EksoNR system with her quick recovery from a stroke.

"EKSO NR can really help people who have suffered a stroke," she said in a statement.

Rangel is not the only patient at DHR Health who has benefited from Ekso technology.

In the fall of 2022, the EksoGT wearable exoskeleton assisted PSJA soccer player Aaron Bazan, then a 14-year-old freshman, with his rehabilitation after an injury in August of that year.

As The Monitor previously reported, Bazan suffered an SHT, or traumatic brain injury, after being hit repeatedly during a single soccer game and later required three hours of surgery to remove a large blood clot.

His injuries led to mobility issues, but after being treated in a pediatric intensive care unit and then at DHR Health Rehabilitation Hospital, Bazan began to make progress thanks to the EksoGT, the family said.

"Every day he's improving beyond what we expect of him," Libby Garza, assistant physical therapist at DHR Health, told The Monitor in September 2022. "In his first few days here, he had a lot of trouble moving his leg and arm, and every day we've seen how much he can move and how strong he is."

Source: Exoskeleton helps DHR Health become the only "Center of Excellence" in Texas |

Tom Illauer

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