A new device developed to help rehabilitate athletes who have undergone a reconstruction of their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is now patent-pending.
Designed by University of Montana Associate Professor Ryan Mizner, PhD, and his student Jonathan Rice, the device is designed to help reduce the effect of gravity and reduce the load on the ACL patients’ legs and knees so they could heal safely, according to a news story in the newspaper Missoulian.
“(The Bridge) reduces the effect of gravity on a patient, so it allows people to do very fast, rapid sports-simulated activities,” Mizner says in the news story.
The news story explains that The Bridge’s components include a rope or tubing system anchored to the ground, a pulley on a bar mounted to the ceiling, and a pair of custom-made shorts and a yoke attached to the tubing. Unlike harnesses, the shorts allow athletes a full range of motion.
The physical therapist can then attach different combinations of tubing to decrease the weight of the patient on the ground, as much as 30% on a 300-pound person, or 90 pounds, the story continues.
Large hospitals use a comparable system with a robotic motor, software and heavy-duty hardware, and the machine costs some $200,000, Mizner notes, per the story.
“The design (of The Bridge) is really simple, so the cost should be a lot lower,” he says.
Mizner adds that the device allows patients to have fun. Soccer players can practice headers, volleyball players can work on bumping, and basketball players can dribble.