Nineteen-year-old Mohammed suffered a spinal cord injury nine years ago that caused him to lose function below the waist. When he began occupational therapy in the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Rehabilitation Program a year and a half ago, he hadn’t stood in a long time.

With the help of some innovative rehab equipment, today Mohammed not only can stand, but he also can walk short distances. Using the Andago gait training system at Phoenix Children’s, Mohammed has made great progress in regaining function, according to his occupational therapist, Alex King. “The things that Mohammed can do in [the Andago] he’s never gotten to do before,” King says.

Life-changing technology

The Rehabilitation Program used funding from Leadership Circle to buy two Andago systems in November 2019. First introduced in 2016, the Andago is a self-contained suspension system that completely supports the patient in an upright position and prevents them from falling. It can be used in multiple settings and for multiple types of patients, says Elizabeth Linos, director of rehabilitation.

“It’s something that is life-changing for so many kids,” she says. “When you are 8 years old and have a stroke, or you’re 10 years old and are in a motor vehicle accident and now are a paraplegic, when you have cancer and you’ve lost a limb, to be able to regain function and walk again, even if it’s adaptive, it really is life-changing.”

King says that the Andago gives the patient the freedom to learn how to use their body without needing another person to hold them upright, something he’s witnessed with Mohammed. “This just follows his gait; it moves forward with him as he moves,” he says. “We can drive it for him, but he can be the driver of his walking and we can help his feet figure out what to do underneath him.”

Not only does the Andago benefit patients, but it also makes a difference for their occupational therapists, who no longer have to use their own bodies to support and maneuver patients. “The impact of the Andago for a therapist is largely bodily health and safety,” King says. “The Andago takes away a lot of what we actually have to do to support them in space.” 

Linos says that since the Rehabilitation Program, which serves about 300 children per day, began using the Andagos, they have been in high demand. Both are in operation from Monday through Saturday, and she estimates that they are in use about 80 percent of every day.  

Setting the pace

Phoenix Children’s is the first children’s hospital in the country to use the Andago system. “We’re considered flagship,” Linos says. “Other people are going to look to us to see how we use it, how it’s utilized, what the outcomes are,” she says.

Without Leadership Circle support, the Rehabilitation Program would not have been able to purchase this innovative technology—and kids like Mohammed would not be able to benefit from this life-changing intervention.

“I would like to thank everybody in Leadership Circle for this generous gift,” Linos says. “This has really made a difference on a daily basis for our rehab staff and most importantly for the children we serve.”

About Leadership Circle

Since 2004, Leadership Circle has awarded nearly $6 million in grant funding to advance the work of Phoenix Children’s top innovators. Find out how you can help us move Phoenix Children’s forward!

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