A step forward in motor function

Written by: Maxon Motor UK Ltd | Published:

People suffering from paraplegia could soon find their prospects of walking radically improved, thanks to a new maxon-reliant technological therapy called Lokomat.

Lokomat therapy has been developed under a greater understanding of motor learning in neurologically-impaired patients. Patients learn new movements by training the body through a very high number of repetitions that imitate the motion exactly.

Locomotion therapy for neuromuscular diseases is not new, but the technology involved in Lokomat brings it into a field of its own.

Since the legs are unable to fully move or carry a person's body alone, the patient is supported by a harness and then guided by a pair of robotic legs, which walk at a steady pace on a treadmill. Although the machine is taking most of the weight of the patient, the walking nevertheless feels extremely natural.

The crucial developments are housed in the motorised leg orthoses. Each contains a maxon drive comprising an RE 40 motor, a gearhead and a brake – all perfectly synchronised with the speed of the treadmill underneath the Lokomat.

Astonishingly, around 25% of paraplegic patients can expect to benefit from this technology and the improvement rate doubles in cases of hemiplegia; conditions where one whole side of a patient's body is paralysed.

maxon senior sales engineer Ian Bell says: "The Lokomat is a stunning piece of engineering, negotiating that difficult line between being too challenging, and not being challenging enough, with apparent ease.

"The fact that maxon motors, because of their reliability and sheer precision, now form an integral part of helping to rehabilitate so many disabled people is something that makes us all tremendously proud."

Lokomat's development was a combined effort from Hocoma AG and Balgrist University Hospital – an example of the superb results that a close collaboration between medical teams and product engineers can bring.

This close working relationship was supported in turn by the unusually hands-on role that maxon motor played in specifying the components that bring the artificial legs to life.

Find out more about ultra-reliable maxon technology and where it is used at the maxon website.

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