Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Physical Therapy for Walking
Our specially trained physical therapists are experts in using Lokomat® and Andago® robotic training devices to help children walk more independently. Doctors throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area send their patients to us because we are able to help children that other therapists can't treat. We work as a team with your child's doctor to help your child move better, faster and stronger.
What is Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Therapy for Walking?
Lokomat and Andago are robotic devices that support a child’s body weight and help their legs move through the motions of walking. The devices include a harness that safely holds a child with attached braces that guide their legs as they practice walking. Our therapists adjust the devices to each child’s size, and they fit children from about age 5 through young adults.
Our physical therapy team uses Lokomat and Andago devices as part of the gait and mobility program at Children's Health℠. The program provides comprehensive therapy for children who have difficulty walking because of traumatic injuries, developmental disabilities and certain chronic conditions.
What are the benefits of Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Physical Therapy for Walking?
The Lokomat and Andago devices can help children who need support to improve their walking ability, speed and endurance. Depending on your child’s level of walking, they might use one or both systems.
The Lokomat system is designed to work with a treadmill, providing body-weight support as your child practices walking on the treadmill. We use Lokomat for children who are not walking or are having difficulty walking, to get them started with supported treadmill walking.
Children can progress to the Andago system as their strength, mobility and walking ability improve. Andago supports children as they walk “over ground,” also called free walking, which means not on a treadmill.
The Lokomat and Andago systems can help your child improve their walking function, speed, mobility and endurance, with benefits including:
- Increased strength in the legs and trunk
- Improved muscle tone and control
- Improved blood circulation
- Improved posture
- Reduced reliance on assistive devices, such as walkers
- Increased bone mineral density through weight-bearing exercise
- Retraining of the brain and spinal cord for walking, through the repetitive patterns that the devices provide
What to expect with Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Physical Therapy for Walking
The Lokomat and Andago devices can help children who have injuries, developmental disabilities or chronic conditions such as:
- Cerebral palsy
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Multiple sclerosis
- Guillain-Barré syndrome
- Muscle weakness
- Acute flaccid myelitis
Robotic-assisted locomotor training with these devices may not be appropriate for everyone. The physical therapists at Children’s Health perform a thorough evaluation to determine whether the therapy may be right for your child.
What to expect before Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Therapy
When our physical therapy team receives the referral from your child’s doctor, we schedule a 1.5-hour session for an evaluation. If the Lokomat or Andago is an appropriate option for your child, we work closely with you to understand your treatment goals for your child. We then develop a care plan with the number and length of sessions to help your child achieve those goals.
It may take one to two sessions to set up and adjust the device for your child and help them get comfortable with the device. We take the time to show your child the device and how it works, because it is a large piece of equipment that might be scary. We show you and your child videos of children walking in the Lokomat or Andago so you can see what it’s like. We help them get used to it by showing them some of the games and activities that the device provides.
What to expect during Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Therapy
The Lokomat device has robotic leg braces that move your child’s legs in a walking pattern. The therapists can adjust the motions, including speed and patterns. The braces can have different settings for each leg, in case one leg needs more assistance. The devices also include virtual reality activities and interactive games to help motivate and entertain your child.
Both devices provide dynamic body weight support, which means that the harness consistently supports your child’s weight when they move. As your child walks, the devices support the same amount of weight with all your child’s movements: up, down and side-to-side.
During each session, the therapist stays by your child’s side to guide their activities and gently encourage them with instructions and cues. As your child progresses, we engage them with games and activities that provide more motivation and stimulation. Over time, we can decrease the guidance that the braces provide so that your child is doing more of the work. Our goal is that your child’s legs take on more of the body weight, which can improve their walking motion, strength, speed and endurance.
What to wear and bring to Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Therapy
- Workout clothes, especially long pants, because the robotic leg braces have cuffs that could rub against your child’s skin if they wear shorts
- Athletic shoes
- Leg or feet braces, if your child uses them
What to expect after Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Therapy
We regularly reassess your child to check their progress and adjust their care plan as needed. After Lokomat and Andago therapy, your child may or may not continue with other physical therapy, depending on their therapy goals.
What questions should I ask my provider about Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Therapy?
If your child’s doctor recommends physical therapy with robotic-assisted gait/locomotor training, you may want to know more before deciding on treatment. Some questions to ask include:
- Is the physical therapist specifically trained in the use of Andago and/or Lokomat?
- Will I need to do anything to prepare my child before Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Therapy?
- Will my child need any special equipment after Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Therapy?
Pediatric Andago and Lokomat Therapy Doctors and Providers
Our licensed physical therapists have received special training to use the Lokomat and Andago, and several are also certified to train other therapists. Our team often partners with physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) doctors, neurologists and neurosurgeons to provide specialized therapy for children with a wide range of injuries and conditions.
KCKara Chaplin, PT Physical Therapist
LLLaura Lestock, PT Physical Therapist
DLDeanna Lusty, PT Physical Therapist
DEDiana Early, PT Physical Therapist
AAAlice Anderson, PT Physical Therapist
Frequently Asked Questions
If my child’s doctor refers them for pediatric Lokomat or Andago therapy, how does my child get into therapy?
Our team will schedule an evaluation (or a planning session, if your child is already receiving outpatient therapy at a Children’s Health location) with one of our physical therapists. The therapist will then determine if Lokomat, Andago or another type of therapy would be best for your child. The therapist will then request health insurance authorization before scheduling any sessions.
How often will my child need to go to Lokomat or Andago therapy?
Most children have two to four sessions of intensive Lokomat or Andago therapy each week, and sessions usually run one hour. The therapy may last 6 to 12 weeks depending on your child’s treatment goals. Your child might have other types of physical therapy in addition to Lokomat or Andago therapy, such as aquatic therapy or functional electrical stimulation (FES) bicycling, as appropriate.
How much work will my child do compared with how much the device is doing?
That depends on your child. Our physical therapists set up the device specifically for your child in their sessions, adjusting as needed over time. If your child needs the device to do all the work, it can. Our goal is for your child to do as much as they can, and do more of the walking as they get stronger.
How will we be able to tell how much of the work my child is doing?
Real-time biofeedback is available in a graph to see how much effort your child is exerting. The devices also have biofeedback video games that respond to your child’s efforts, so we can see how your child is progressing and adjust the devices accordingly.