New technology at Sheltering Arms gets patients on their feet faster

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WRIC) — Jody Maxwell knows that it only takes a split second for a life to change forever.

She had a nasty fall in her backyard in June 2016. She cracked her T12 vertebra, bruised her spinal cord and has been in a wheelchair ever since.

“Everything feel okay?” asks Kristi Schoenfelder, a physical therapist at Sheltering Arms. “Just take slow deep breaths. We’re going to keep going up.”

Schoenfelder is securing Maxwell in the latest robotic device called Erigo Pro. It is designed to get spinal cord, traumatic brain injury and stroke patients on their feet faster.

“Each steps helps, each step helps,” says Maxwell.

During this session, she is able to go vertical, and the technology moves her feet in a walking motion while her muscles are stimulated.

“We’re going to have you feel it on the right shin,” Schoenfelder tells Maxwell.

Getting patients upright can help prevent the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal complications that come with prolonged bed rest. The robot gradually inclines to acclimate each patient’s blood pressure.

There is also a quality of life issue.

“A lot of people have goals of walking again,” says Schoenfelder. “People want to be up and not down and laying flat or in a wheelchair. They’re happy when they’re in this machine. It really helps fill the gap so that people can get back to walking quicker.”

Adds Maxwell, “It gives me the sense of being able to be upright, and eventually I’ll be walking. It gives me confidence.”

After nearly a year in either a bed or wheelchair, Maxwell enjoys seeing the world at full length again during her Erigo Pro sessions.

She cannot wait to walk again on her own and get back to what are truly the little things in life.

“Cleaning my house!” Maxwell exclaims. “Would you believe that? Cleaning my house.”

Sheltering Arms says it is the first hospital in Virginia to get the Erigo Pro, and the technology has already helped to shorten the time patients are admitted for care.

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