Kaweah Health photo Ruth Towes (left) and Tara Norman, Kaweah Health therapy supervisors, assist Adrian Regalado with walking rehab using the new SafeGait system. Kaweah Health photo

published on August 2, 2022 - 12:01 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Learning to walk again after a major injury can be a long road. Kaweah Health this week unveiled the longest track in the nation to help in that journey.

Visalia-based Kaweah Health is the first in California using a new piece of technology, the SafeGait 360º Balance and Mobility Trainer, to help people who are learning to walk again after they’ve been injured. The integrated health system serving Central California has also debuted a 100-foot track for its patients — the longest track in the nation.

“It is providing hope in motion and allowing us to take our therapy, specifically our stroke rehab as we are a stroke specialty center, to the next level,” said Tara Norman, Kaweah Health therapy supervisor.

The therapy team at Kaweah Health is now using the SafeGait 360º Balance and Mobility Trainer — the longest track in use in the country. Photo contributed


The SafeGait 360º is a ceiling-mounted, dynamic body-weight support and fall protection system. It promotes a safe, efficient therapy session to individuals with a variety of impairments as they practice walking, improve strength and overcome balance concerns, according to a news release.

The system, made possible through the Kaweah Health Hospital Foundation’s community fundraising efforts, is in use at Kaweah Health’s Rehabilitation Hospital. There, physical therapists are using the track-and-harness system to increase patient confidence and reduce fears of falling as they learn to stand or walk again after a stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, amputation and other neurological or neurodegenerative diagnoses. This device tracks patient movement so physical therapists can make quick and safe adjustments while letting patients learn to negotiate stairs, transfers and floor exercises.

“This system has consistent tension on the patient which is going to allow them to start to be able to regain balance themselves,” Norman said.

The road to recovery can be long, but data can give patients hope, said Ruth Toews, therapy manager. “We have to help them understand those small changes amount to larger changes down the road.”

Physical therapists, too, are benefitting from the equipment, according to the release, as they are less likely to be hurt catching a fall, which gives them the opportunity to expand their intervention strategies. They no longer have to be on guard for falls — the most likely time for work-related injury to occur. This also means fewer staff are needed to work with one patient, which opens opportunities for other patients. Data provided by the system is also be available to help physical therapists evaluate patient treatment plans.

Switzerland-based DIH, a global solution provider of robotic rehabilitation devices for physical and occupational therapy, is proud to recognize Kaweah Health as a DIH Technology vanguard center, according to the release.

“Kaweah Health embodies patient care dedication. Through our meetings with the team, we understood and shared their motivation to overcome any technical challenges to integrate in their center the largest SafeGait 360® ever installed in the USA,” stated Chad Woodmancy, sales director at DIH Technology. “We are thrilled to be a partner of Kaweah Health in their mission to provide the best outcomes possible to their patients thanks to innovative robotic rehabilitation.”

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