Rifton E-Pacer vs. Treadmill Gait Training System


Linda Rusiecki PT, DPT, CBIS from the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center at Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan talks about her experience using the Rifton TRAM and E-Pacer in comparison to treadmill gait training systems.

So before we had the first Rifton TRAM or the E-Pacers, we were using an unweighted gait device that goes over the treadmill. And I used it a lot. It was pretty physically difficult for therapists to facilitate the leg motion, because you’d end up working your right bicep a lot if it was a right-sided stroke, or the left bicep if it was a left-sided stroke. And it was physically very difficult on the therapist. We’d have to take breaks every five minutes to get a drink of water because we were pouring in sweat, and just kind of like relieve those back cramps that would come from being hunched over quite so far. It was always very difficult work. It would also often take me about ten to fifteen minutes to set somebody up in that harness system for the first time. So the issue was because there was so much set-up time, there was so much take-down time for this other unweighted gait system that we were using; a lot of times you’d get somebody up in it, and there were actually only fifteen minutes of a one-hour session that were spent walking. And that was as much as we could actually do.

With the Rifton, on the other hand, it’s much easier to get a patient into it. Set-up time takes about a minute, take-down time takes about a minute; and so there’s more of that one-hour session that can actually be spent walking. It’s not unusual for us to have a patient up and walking for thirty minutes, even forty-five minutes – if the person is young, able-bodied and able to tolerate that amount, because the set-up time is so much shorter and the ease-of-use is so much better.

Another thing that we were running into is that even though we have a lot of resource staff members that come and help us on weekends or when other therapists are off on vacation, our resource staff members wouldn’t feel comfortable using that other unweighted gait system, because it had such a learning curve on it. Because it was so hard to use, we had a lot of therapists that would just look at that, and they were like “No I can’t do that.” Whereas I haven’t had a single therapist yet that I’ve trained to use the Rifton who has said “I can’t do that” or is not comfortable. In fact, even the ones who don’t use it very often… our therapy techs know how to use it so well that they can even just teach a therapist how to use it in about five minutes, and it works out really well.

So as for ease-of-use as well as set-up time and take-down time, the Rifton products are superior in just about every way to other products that I’ve used.

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