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Equipment Donations Strengthen Shepherd Therapy

ATLANTA (Dec. 11, 2009)  A device that gives patients the support needed to work on walking sooner and minimize fatigue is one of two types of equipment recently donated to Shepherd Center by Rifton Equipment, a New York-based maker of rehabilitation therapy technology.

The device, a Pacer XL gait trainer, helps support a person as he or she attempts to stand and practice walking, endurance, balance and motor control.

Unlike other assistive walking devices, the Pacer XL has trunk support and platform attachment options that provide complete control and protection from falling, as well as a seat attachment that allows a person to sit and rest without having to get out of the device.

“Because patients don’t have to take the time to sit back down into the wheelchair when fatigued and then stand back up again to continue walking, they can walk farther distances in the same amount of therapy time and ultimately progress more quickly,” says Clare Hartigan, a physical therapist in Shepherd Center’s Locomotor Training Program. “It’s not as fatiguing for them or the staff. That’s a huge advantage.”

Hartigan first saw the Pacer XL at a trade show a few years ago. When she had a patient who might benefit from it, she called Rifton and asked if they could provide one on trial for 30 days. The company agreed, and the therapy was so successful, the patient ended up buying it.

So Hartigan asked for another one. This time, Rifton offered to donate the Pacer – which can cost up to $3,000 – to Shepherd. Right away, it became a popular device in the therapy gym, especially for patients with incomplete spinal cord injuries. Eventually, the acquired brain injury (ABI) staff started using the Pacer with their patients, as well. So Rifton donated a second Pacer, which is used exclusively in the ABI Program.

Rifton has also given Shepherd a SoloLift, a device designed to help transfer patients from sitting to standing. It can also be used to facilitate transfers to bathroom equipment, as well as in and out of bed. 

“We wanted to identify a top-notch rehabilitation hospital where we knew the equipment would get thoroughly tested,” says Joe Keiderling, director of marketing for Rifton Equipment. “We wanted a place with a reputation for progressive ideas and forward-thinking. Shepherd Center was an obvious choice.”

Hartigan and the other therapists are grateful to Rifton for their generosity.

“They were wonderful to provide us with not one, but with three pieces of equipment,” she says. “With the Pacer, patients are up and walking sooner, and they can maximize their therapy time. We all love it.”

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.