Neurological Recovery Center documentary
Documentary about the clinic sponsored by Hocoma. The Neurological Recovery Center has more than five robotic gait training equipment called the Lokomat manufactured by the Swiss company, Hocoma. We will be adding more in the future as we expand to service new patients enrolling into the clinic everyday.
How it all started.. The Conti family story
The story how the clinic came to life and is now helping hundreds of patients get better. Bruce is a huge part of the clinic making sure that every patients receives the best care possible. His vision to incorporate cutting edge technology lead to the creation of the virtual reality division and various research efforts in the field.
Fort Worth Business Press release
The Right Direction: Developer opens rehab center for brain, spinal injuries
Bruce Conti remembers the exact moment when his son, Spencer, began to laugh again.
It was more than seven weeks after Spencer’s mother, Lee Anne Conti, found him totally unresponsive when she tried to wake him up one morning for a dental appointment while he was home from the University of Alabama on Thanksgiving break.
After spending three and a half weeks on a ventilator in the intensive care unit at Texas Health Resources Harris Methodist Fort Worth, Spencer was undergoing two months of physical therapy in Houston at the Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research Memorial Hermann Research Center.
“I was standing at the door of his room at TIRR, while several of his childhood buddies from Fort Worth were visiting,” Bruce Conti recalls.
“I could hear his friends laughing and talking, and then suddenly I realized I was hearing Spencer laughing with them, and I started crying. It was very emotional,” Conti said recently. “We couldn’t get him to crack a smile or show any facial expression, but somehow his friends got through to him. From that day on, I knew we were going in the right direction.”
Now, Conti, a commercial real estate developer and president of Conti Warehouses in Fort Worth, is determined that his son and other North Texans who have suffered brain and spinal cord injuries will continue to progress “in the right direction.”
He and his wife have established the Neurological Recovery Center in the old Target store at Cherry Lane and Interstate 30 in west Fort Worth. They have equipped the center with state-of-the-art robotic therapy equipment and have hired physical therapists, certified through special training, to use the equipment.
The star of the center is a $400,000 LokomatPro, developed by Hocoma – a medical technology company based in Switzerland – for rehabilitation of patients with lower body deficits caused by stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases and injuries. Conti first saw the machine in action with his son at TIRR.
The Lokomat is a gait therapy device that uses a computer-controlled harness and treadmill to create the precise physiological gait pattern and pace that each patient requires. It replicates the walking pattern over and over with exact consistency throughout the therapy session. The idea is to stimulate neuroplasticity, develop new brain cells and retrain the brain and spinal cord to work together to reestablish nerve pathways that were interrupted by injury or illness.
It also helps strengthen muscles, improve circulation and build stronger bones.
“The idea isn’t new. For at least 20 years, therapists have been working with patients in harnesses on treadmills, encouraging them to take steps, but it takes two therapists lifting and moving the patient’s feet, and it takes a lot of repetition,” said Jennifer Zoll, the physical therapist in charge of therapy at the new center. “Without computerized control, you are exhausted after 10 or 20 minutes. Plus, it’s impossible to exactly replicate the same gait over and over.
“With the Lokomat, the machine does the heavy work, and it will continue working as long as you need it,” Zoll said. “It also provides constant feedback and ongoing assessments that allow you to track the patient’s progress, which will be especially important when we start filing insurance claims.”
Another piece of special equipment in the new center is Hocoma’s Armeo Therapy Concept, a robotic system with a range of devices for computerized shoulder, arm and hand rehabilitation. And the center has a specialized tilt table called the Erigo, with integrated stepping functions that allow for safe verticalization of patients in the very early stages of rehabilitation, even while they are still unconscious and have no head and neck control. It can also help prevent secondary complications caused by immobility.
Those two machines totaled an additional $150,000.
Conti has installed them and some other less high-tech devices, including a chryosauna to drop body temperature and increase circulation, in his 4,000-square-foot Neurological Recovery Center. It has a large glass and steel overhead garage door in back so that patients can be driven directly into the air-conditioned center and taken in and out of vans and other vehicles without exposure to the elements.
He plans to buy three or four more Lokomats for the center as patient volume increases, and he would like to open additional centers throughout the area over the next several years.
Therapists began seeing patients at the center on doctors’ referrals in mid-May and have worked with a dozen, pro bono. They expected to continue on that basis through at least the second week of July, when they hoped to have the paperwork completed so they can file insurance claims, Zoll said.
While the Lokomat has had U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval since March 2002, there are only two others in North Texas. One is at the Dallas VA Medical Center, which purchased it recently and does not yet have therapists certified to use it, and one is at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, where it is used for research, Conti said.
He gives Lokomat therapy and doubling up on all other types of therapy much of the credit for his son’s gradual and ongoing recovery since he returned home last March.
One day in the previous July, when one of the therapists had finished for the day, he told Conti that Spencer had been doing all the right things and working hard all day.
“All day,” Spencer repeated.
Since that day he has slowly learned to carry on a conversation and recently began learning words in Portuguese.
Zoll says that when she began working with Spencer in his home, in March of 2014, after two months of rehab at TIRR, he was on a feeding tube and still pretty much in a vegetative state. She wasn’t sure what his prognosis would be, but today, she says, she’s hoping that a year from now he will be walking, maybe with a walker or other assist device, but walking on his own – as well as laughing and talking.
Conti says he will likely never know exactly when and how Spencer’s brain was injured, but doctors diagnosed and treated a bacterial infection that caused severe sepsis and multiple organ failure. They estimate he went without oxygen for four to six minutes.
“We are still willing to try everything – pharmacology, electrical stimulation, magnetic therapy, bariatric pressure, stem cells, anything that might help our son, but we believe this kind of intense physical therapy is the ticket for Spencer, and hopefully for others with similar brain injuries. We have a lot of veterans coming back with brain injuries and automobile accidents, babies born with brain injuries, older people with Parkinson’s,” Conti pointed out. “This has the potential to help a lot of people.”
Medical VR Startup Takes First at UTD Big Idea Competition
PHOTO GALLERY | Neuro Rehab VR creates virtual and augmented reality therapy games to help patients with traumatic brain injuries, neurodegenerative diseases, or those who have suffered a stroke.
BY HEATHER NOEL • NOV 17, 2017
From giving attraction maps the augmented reality treatment via a mobile app to an unmanned aerial system capable of monitoring air quality, University of Texas at Dallas students offered a variety in Thursday’s Big Idea Competition final.
But, it was Ph.D. student Veena Somareddy who snagged the top $15,000 prize as well as the $2,500 Diversity and Inclusion Award with Neuro Rehab VR.
Her startup is working to disrupt the field of physical therapy with virtual and augmented reality games leveraging the brain’s neuroplasticity.
“Research suggests that exercise with functional goals and targeted repetition can increase and form new neural pathways in the brain.”
Suffering a stroke or traumatic brain injury can change a person’s life forever leaving them with long term disabilities.
With physical therapy and cognitive training, the brain does have the ability to recover, said Somareddy, who is a Neuro Rehab VR co-founder and software platform engineer at Fort Worth’s Neurological Recovery Center, where the therapy games are currently being used.
“Research suggests that exercise with functional goals and targeted repetition can increase and form new neural pathways in the brain. Our games are designed to do exactly that,” Somareddy said.
The startup has developed three games so far that focus on different areas of the body and brain. Patients at the Neurological Recovery Center have been using them, but there are plans to expand to five more clinics across the U.S. by the end of the year.
With the Big Idea prize money Somareddy said Neuro Rehab VR will hire more software developers. Currently, it’s just her and an intern filling those roles.
Other finalists in the startup pitch competition put on annually by the university’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship didn’t go home empty handed. This year’s prize pool was $80,000 and included new categories such as diversity and inclusion and social impact. Beyond students, UTD faculty, staff, and alumni were also recognized for their entrepreneurial work.
Cthrough won the $10,000 second place prize for its AR attraction map app. AltaAir received $5,000 for coming in third with its UAS for monitoring air quality. It also was named the Best Undergraduate Idea, which included a $2,500 prize.
Alta Air team won the best undergrad pitch at the UTD Big Idea Competition 2017.
Here are others honored Thursday night:
Biggest Social Impact — Skyven Technologies, founded by Arun Gupta, a UTD alum
Biggest, Most Innovative Idea — Brain Performance Institute
Best Undergraduate Pitch — AltaAir
UTDesign Startup Challenge Winner — Simple Biomedical
UTDesign Startup Challenge Winner — OnPoynt Aerial Drone Solutions
“If you truly are disruptive and innovative, you will polarize people.”
This year’s Big Idea judges included Julie Nickols, partner at Haynes and Boone, Courtney Caldwell, co-founder of ShearShare, Jeff Williams, partner at Interlock Partners, and Bob Metcalfe, co-founder of Ethernet and director of innovation at the University of Texas at Austin. Guy Kawasaki, a former Apple executive and current chief evangelist at Canva, also served on the judging panel and gave a keynote speech about the art of innovation.
Kawasaki said being an innovator means learning to ignore the naysayers.
“If you truly are disruptive and innovative, you will polarize people,” he said.
Photos by Heather Noel and Stephanie Mojonnet.