Step in the Right Direction

Parkview Hospital Randallia is now home to one of just seven cutting-edge gait trainers in the country.
9/6/2017
Jennifer Blomquist
Steve Vorderman

“Looking at it, you might think it’s an elliptical on steroids,” says Greg Parrett, rehabilitation therapy manager at Parkview Hospital Randallia in Fort Wayne. “It’s called the G-EO System, by Reha Technology, and it’s absolutely fabulous.”

Manufactured in Sweden, the G-EO is one of the most sophisticated and modern technology-equipped gait trainers on the planet. There are just over one hundred worldwide, with only seven in the United States.

“A patient’s feet are placed on the foot plates and that is what moves the patient,” says Parrett. “There’s a harness system that can hold the patient upright if the patient is unable to do so. As the patient gains strength, the G-EO adjusts so the patient is bearing 100-percent of his body weight on it. As the machine moves the legs, it will move the feet and legs in a normal walking motion, but we can adjust the machine so the patient is doing all of the work. It can even go as far as providing resistance so the patient works a little harder in order to take steps. And in addition to forward walking, the G-EO can simulate walking up and down stairs. No other gait trainer that I know of can do that.”

Parrett says there’s a long list of patients who can benefit from the G-EO, including those who have experienced stroke, brain and spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease. 

He also points out the extreme efficiency the G-EO offers to both patients and physical therapists.

“With a spinal cord injury patient, for example, it may take four or five physical therapists to help that person walk: one on each leg, one person moving the walker and two people supporting the patient’s upper body. With the G-EO, it really takes just one therapist to be able to start the machine and monitor the patient.”

Another beneficial feature is how many more steps a patient can take with the G-EO versus traditional physical therapy in which therapists are assisting the patient to walk.

“For a stroke patient in extended rehabilitation, they would need to be in the hospital for about two weeks. If the patient can’t walk much, it will take multiple therapists to help them and on the first day, the patient might take one to five steps and that’s it, because it’s so fatiguing and difficult for them. But if you put a stroke patient in the G-EO, within the first half hour of therapy, that patient could easily take 1,000 steps and that’s where the true benefit comes in. With a stroke patient, part of the brain actually dies due to lack of blood flow. But the brain is able to recreate neuropathways so those signals can get to the legs and get them to walk again. Those neuropathways are built based on the repetitions of taking steps. The more repetitions, the faster the pathways are built and the faster you’re going to recover. The G-EO is helping those patients to make profound gains.”

Located on the ground floor of English Tower at Parkview’s Randallia location, the G-EO has been in use almost constantly since the hospital was able to purchase the machine in May with donations through the Parkview Foundation.

“The Foundation assisted in the purchase of the G-EO by serving as a liaison between generous donors and Parkview Health,” says Tim McElwee, senior vice president of the Parkview Foundation. “The generous gifts provided by the 244 community golfers and 59 sponsors who supported the 2016 Parkview Foundation Golf Classic, as well as the donors who will participate in the September 18, 2017 Parkview Foundation Golf Classic, made possible the purchase of this state-of-the art medical device.”

Parrett says he and his colleagues spent more than a year looking into the purchase of the G-EO, which was a huge investment.

“We are blessed to have the Foundation help us with this venture and from a medical standpoint, it’s something that really puts Fort Wayne on the map. We are the center hub when it comes to offering advanced robotic technology. We can attract a lot of patients here for their care. And it’s exciting for us as therapists to be able to offer this kind of care. Patients absolutely love it and so do their family members. It’s very emotional to not be able to walk because of a debilitating disease or trauma and then be able to walk with the G-EO. We truly believe in this machine and know it’s making a difference.”

Parkview Health/Parkview Randallia

Address: 2200 Randallia Drive Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805

Phone: (260) 373-4000

Website: parkview.com/Foundations

Number of Employees: 10,000

Products & Services: Parkview Health includes nine hospitals and a network of primary care and specialty physicians. Parkview Hospital Randallia offers a number of services, including a full-service emergency department, all-new Family Birthing Center, the Parkview Center for Wound Healing, senior wellness center, continuing care center, outpatient infusion, the Parkview Center on Aging and Health, a sleep clinic and rehabilitation center.

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