Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital has partnered with SportsArt Fitness Inc., a leading manufacturer of professional grade fitness equipment, to launch international distribution of the hospital’s Intelligently Controlled Assistive Rehabilitation Elliptical Training System that can help patients with disabling conditions learn to walk again.
Researchers at Madonna spent three years developing the ICARE in collaboration with Carl Nelson, University of Nebraska–Lincoln associate professor of mechanical and materials engineering and biological systems engineering.
For individuals who have experienced a stroke, brain injury, multiple sclerosis or other conditions, regaining the ability to walk and improving overall conditioning are important rehabilitation goals. Expensive robotic gait devices can help accelerate a person's ability to achieve these goals, but at a cost of $350,000 or more, they are not readily available outside of a specialized rehabilitation hospital.
Unlike a typical elliptical, the ICARE offers powered support so it is easier for people with weakness and/or limited mobility begin and maintain exercise in a walking-like pattern. The motorized control has a sensor that adjusts the level of support during exercise, so if a person needs more support, the power automatically increases, as the person needs less support, the motorized power decreases.
Madonna’s Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering, led by director Judith Burnfield, discovered the E872 elliptical trainer by SportsArt Fitness most closely replicated a natural walking pattern compared to others in the study, making it the most suitable for a gait assistance device.
Prem Paul, UNL vice chancellor for research and economic development, said UNL is proud of its collaboration with Madonna. "We are strong believers in the power of partnerships, and the ICARE is an example of the importance of translating basic research into solutions that benefit society."
The partnership between UNL and Madonna would not have been possible without support from Marsha Lommel, the hospital’s president and CEO, Paul said.
Madonna's research team also partnered with NUtech Ventures, a nonprofit affiliate of UNL that connects researchers with the private sector, to help commercialize the ICARE.
The ICARE will be sold throughout the U.S. and 80 countries internationally. It will include parts manufactured by SourceOne, a Lincoln, Neb., custom manufacturing company.
Terry Brown, president of SportsArt America Inc., said, "We are very excited about what this product will do for the rehab community around the world."