Walking together with you

Henry Tan was an avid sportsman, till congenital muscular dystrophy weakened his muscles and affected his walking. When he suffered a stroke in October 2018, his ability to walk was severely impaired. He was admitted to St Luke’s Hospital for rehabilitation.

“I walk with a hunch and my wife would scold me. But when I try to stand tall, I will fall.” said Henry, 66. His therapists informed him of a new technology that might be helpful for his progress.

St Luke’s Hospital is a partner in the Temasek Foundation – Improving Mobility via Exoskeletons (iMOVE) programme. The robotic exoskeleton helps patients with conditions such as stroke and spinal cord injury to regain some mobility and independence in walking.

The iMOVE programme organised by National University Health System (NUHS) and Alexandra Hospital was officially launched on 6 May 2019. Prof John Wong, Chief Executive of NUHS said, “Studies have shown that intensity and frequency of rehabilitation translates to better outcomes. However, such intensity is difficult to achieve, particularly for the more debilitated patients.”

Yap Thian Yong, physiotherapist at St Luke’s Hospital, said, “The exoskeleton allows for a more consistent practice of the joint movements. It can also generate immediate feedback data so that we can adjust patients’ walking pattern immediately. Together with conventional rehabilitation, we can achieve better productivity and optimise the session for patients.”

Henry joked that the exoskeleton was “unforgiving” as it “disallowed” him to walk with the wrong posture that he had used for over 20 years. With better posture, he can now walk

Besides the exoskeleton, Henry also used other robotics at the hospital such as the G-EO System, which trained his lower body muscles.