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Technological physical therapy rehab lab opens

By Erica Schroeder

Intern

A new rehabilitation center in the Miramar area utilizes robotics to customize and tailor rehabilitation workouts to patients.

Dr. Bradley Marcus of Del Mar recently opened Medical Rehabilitation and Kinematics Lab Inc.

“No one really has this stuff in the country,” Marcus said, explaining that his lab contains several machines that can’t be found elsewhere in the U.S.

The lab generally deals with patients affected by cerebral palsy, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, strokes and Parkinson’s disease, he said. People who respond best to this type of therapy are patients with the ability to send some signals throughout the body and patients with some movement and feeling in the body.

“Many of the machines used are tailored to the patients’ strengths and weaknesses and movements are expressed in virtual video game-style tasks,” he explained.

The center has a room of green screens where patients use games that involve catching balloons or driving a car that work their extremities needing the most therapy.

The lab also employs harnesses to ensure safety and stability for patients while exercising weak areas.

There are always several people on the floor to assist patients, including a physician, physical therapist and technical aids to ensure individual attention is given to each patient.

“We’re trying to make a really safe, fun environment for them,” Marcus said.

A full medical exam is done prior to working with the machines in order to ensure safety for each patient.

Among the equipment they use is a robotic walking simulator that teaches walking by simulating the user’s movements in a video game. The patient watches his or her virtual character engage in activities such as walking or kicking an object, for example.

Called the Lokomat, it helps patients gain control over their muscles and makes physical therapy more fun and enticing, particularly for children.

The machines also take measurements and statistics while being operated to compile progressive data.

Marcus said he hopes this data, combined with motion analysis in a laboratory, can be used by physicians or researchers to come to new conclusions about therapy for different diseases.

“I want this place to be a tool for physicians in the community,” Marcus said.

For more information please visit mrklab.com.