Local hospital using new technology to help stroke patients

A machine at Franciscan Health Lafayette is helping stroke patients recover and it is the only one in the state.
A machine at Franciscan Health Lafayette is helping stroke patients recover and it is the only one in the state.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A machine at Franciscan Health Lafayette is helping stroke patients recover, and it is the only one in the state.

“We are going to provide the best rehab care using the latest technology for the community, ” said Dr. Pradeep Gnanapragasm, rehabilitation medical director at Franciscan Health Lafayette.

The Ekso GT robotic exoskeleton is used for patients in stroke rehab.

Bruce Colgan has been using the exoskeleton for about a month. His wife Susan Colgan said he had a massive stroke at work on Sept. 1.

“Before, when he come in … I’ll be honest. I didn’t think he was gonna do anything,” said Susan Colgan.

Dr. Gnanapragasm, Bruce Colgan’s physician, said research shows the machine accelerates the patient’s progress. There’s only one, but the robotic suit can be programmed to assist or offer full support to the person using it.

“The main goal is to keep them ready and prevent complications related to not walking,” said Dr. Gnanapragasm.

With the machine, the doctor can train his patients to walk the right way while building core and leg strength.

“This helps the payer too,” said Dr. Gnanapragasm. “The lesser number of days they stay in a rehab unit it benefits them. They don’t spend that much of money.”

The goal of the robotic backpack is to give people a better quality of life. It helps them by walking naturally and taking more steps in therapy.

“The patient is walking 700 feet with Ekso,” Dr. Gnanapragasm said. “Without Ekso, maybe 20 feet, 30 feet.”

The first day Bruce Colgan used the machine, he was told to take two or three steps.

“The doctor was standing down there at the desk,” Susan Colgan said. “He couldn’t believe it was Bruce coming, but he done 80 [steps] that day.”

Now, he can take more than 600 steps.

“How does that make you feel that this is kind of helping you progress like this?” News 18’s Kiyerra Lake asked Bruce Colgan.

“Feels good,” he replied. “Feels good.”