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Rehab robot helps hydrocephalus patient walk


James Gallagher, 70, of Farmingdale, LI, is looking forward to his discharge from the rehabilitation unit at Glen Cove Hospital today. The former special education teacher, who in his younger days was an avid athlete, said he can't wait to get home to his wife and children. And, thanks to the time spent working with his physical therapist and the G-EO robot, he eagerly awaits the day he can hold his grandchild in his arms.

During a presentation to a group of reporters, Mr. Gallagher recalled a time two years ago when his wife first noticed that he seemed to be slowing down. "I just couldn't keep up with the rest of the family. And the worst of it," he said tearfully, "was that my family felt that I shouldn't lift my little grandchild."

After rounds of testing, a spinal tap revealed that Mr. Gallagher was living with hydrocephalus, which is fluid build-up in the brain. The placement of a shunt helped relieve the pressure on his brain, but he was still left with weakness in both legs, impaired balance and decreased endurance. That's why, about three weeks ago, Mr. Gallagher was introduced to the G-EO System robot.

Glen Cove Hospital is one of only seven hospitals nationwide to offer G-EO, which is ideal for patients who have suffered traumatic injuries and require physical therapy to recover. It is the only device that realistically simulates stair climbing and can be operated by one therapist.

"The funding for G-EO was made possible through the generosity of the late Elsie Wunsch, who had volunteered at the hospital for over 50 years and was a great advocate for physical therapy," said Carey Otterstedt, who is administrative director of Rehabilitation Services at Glen Cove. "By offering our patients therapy on the G-EO, we are hoping to enhance Glen Cove's reputation as the go-to rehab facility in the region."

High-volume repetition is crucial, according to Josh Schiller, the key account manager of the Northeast Region for Reha Technology, the manufacturer of the G-EO System. "Just like an athlete trains for their individual sport through repeated practice to perfect a skill, a patient recovering from a neurological disorder can benefit from massed practice, or high-volume repetition, based on the principle of neuroplasticity – the process your brain uses to rewire itself and heal from injury," said Mr. Schiller. "With that being said, The G-EO System supports the therapists by helping them obtain high amounts of repetition and intensity in a reliable, safe and motivating environment with the ability to make adjustments and get important feedback in real time."

Physical therapist Dianne Leone, who worked with Mr. Gallagher during his many rehab sessions, agreed. "Mr. Gallagher has been with us at Glen Cove since January 28th, and we've worked together with G-EO three times a week during his therapy sessions," said Ms. Leone. "I truly believe that G-EO is a great tool that helps me work with my patients to get them home as soon as possible. I can direct the robot to speed up the patient's gait or to slow it down; in other words, to adjust to each patient's level of impairment. By having this ability and working with G-EO, we are able to maximize the patient's strength, endurance and recovery … just like we've done with Mr. Gallagher."

After proudly demonstrating his increased mobility while working on G-EO, Mr. Gallagher thanked everyone who helped him on his journey to recovery.

"Thanks to my wonderful therapists, and the G-EO robot," he said. "I'm going home today. And I feel great."

For more information about the G-EO robot and other inpatient rehabilitation services at Glen Cove Hospital, call 516-674-7692.

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Michelle Pinto
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