Renowned Spinal Cord Doctor Applies Robotic Theories to Paralysis Treatment During Study at World's Largest Spinal Cord Injury Research Center

MIAMI, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Volker Dietz, M.D., Director of the Swiss Paraplegic Center of Zurich, will be a Visiting Scientist at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis to study assisted walking using the Lokomat(R) robotic walker to help regain movement in individuals with spinal cord injury. It is hoped that the results of these studies will contribute to the development of more effective rehabilitation strategies to improve walking function after spinal cord injury.

During Dr. Dietz' four-month visit at the Miami Project, 22 volunteer research subjects will participate in studies involving the Lokomat(R). This device is an assistive robotic walking machine mounted over a treadmill machine that assists in retraining research participants with incomplete spinal cord injuries to walk upright by accessing so-called "spinal locomotor centers." These studies are aimed at understanding how variations to the stepping pattern affect the motor response in the muscles. Other studies being done with the Lokomat(R) investigate how training with the device improves ability to walk.

"Locomotion therapy on a treadmill has established itself in the past few years as the effective standard therapy in numerous motoric diseases and following injuries," said Dr. Dietz, a leading contributor to the development of the German-made Lokomat(R).

"We are honored to have Dr. Dietz collaborate with us at the Miami Project. His 30-year career in the field of neuroscience and his extensive experience with individuals who have spinal cord injury are impressive and we are fortunate to work alongside him. These studies will help us develop the best rehabilitation intervention, so that we can maximize function today. It will also help us prepare for the day when a cure is available for restoring spinal connections -- rehabilitation will be absolutely necessary in order to make those connections functional," said Edelle Field-Fote, Ph.D., P.T., a researcher at the Miami Project, who is working directly with Dr. Dietz.

The Miami Project houses over a hundred of the world's leading doctors, scientists, researchers and technicians in the field of spinal cord injury at its state-of-the-art facility on the campus of the University of Miami School of Medicine. The scope of research at the Miami Project has helped open many doors for treating paralysis and improving the quality of life for spinal cord injured persons everywhere.

The Miami Project is the one of only three research centers in the United States to have the Lokomat(R). There are only 9 such systems in the world.

The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis

Founded in 1985 through the vision and efforts of Dr. Barth Green and following the injury of football legend Nick Buoniconti's son Marc, the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, located at the University of Miami School of Medicine, is the world's largest, most comprehensive research center dedicated to finding more effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure for paralysis that results from spinal cord injury. The Miami Project basic science and clinical research programs address a broad scope of topics including pathophysiology, neuroprotection, regeneration and repair, rehabilitation and quality of life.

For more information or to make a contribution to the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, please visit or call 1 800 STAND UP.