Robot system helps paralyzed IDF soldier walk

“Whatever the patients cannot do such as lifting their legs, is done by the robot,” said Dr. Isabella Schwartz, director of Rehabilitative Services at Hadassah Mount Scopus.

IDF combat soldier Dvir Teitelbaum uses Hadassah Hospital's new Lokomat robotic walking system (photo credit: AVI HAYUN)
IDF combat soldier Dvir Teitelbaum uses Hadassah Hospital's new Lokomat robotic walking system
(photo credit: AVI HAYUN)
IDF combat soldier Dvir Teitelbaum was serving on the northern front when he suddenly couldn’t fight off the feeling of fatigue.
Within days, the 21 year old could barely move at all, and it was clear something was seriously wrong. Teitelbaum was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare and occasionally life-threatening neurological disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the nervous system.
Initially treated at a hospital in the Galilee, his condition rapidly deteriorated. He was transferred to the neurology department at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital for expert treatment and to be closer to his family.
While his condition improved following a procedure to clean the blood in his body, Teitelbaum remained paralyzed.
Assistance for Teitelbaum came in the form of the hospital’s new “Lokomat” robotic walking system, donated by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, led by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, to the hospital’s Mount Scopus Rehabilitation Department.
The Lokomat machine, developed by Swiss medical technology company Hocoma, is the leading device worldwide providing functional gait therapy for paralyzed patients.
“Whatever the patients cannot do such as lifting their legs, is done by the robot,” said Dr. Isabella Schwartz, director of Rehabilitative Services at Hadassah Mount Scopus.
“Sensors record the exertion and the patient’s independent movements. Robotic support and weight relief can be reduced to promote or extend existing residual movements.”
There are currently more than 300 Lokomat systems in operation in some 50 countries, assisting approximately 45,000 neurological patients. The machine aims to help individuals suffering from movement disorders caused by stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases and injuries.
“Now I am able to move my feet and hands,” said Teitelbaum. “There’s still a long way ahead. But I plan on fighting to regain my ability to move and I am going to celebrate progress – however small.”
Speaking at a dedication ceremony for the Lokomat, Prof. Zeev Rotstein, director general of Hadassah Medical Organization, told Teitelbaum: “Today, we decided that you are going to regain all the abilities you lost. I know you come from a combat unit. You are doing great work with the therapists at Hadassah. Keep going and practice every day on our Lokomat. You will get there.”