Ekso Bionics – A Wearable Robot for Walking

Ekso is a wearable robot—or exoskeleton—that powers people with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness to get them standing up and walking. It is a ready-to-wear, batterypowered, bionic device that is strapped over the user’s clothing. The combination of motors and sensors, along with patient assist with balance and body positioning, allow the user to walk over ground with an efficient reciprocal gait pattern. An experienced user/patient can transfer to/from their wheelchair and don or doff the Ekso in less than 5 minutes. The torso and leg straps are designed for the user/patient to easily get in and out of the device either on their own or with minimal assistance.

Intended For:
• People with lower extremity weakness or paralysis due to neurological disease or injury
• Spinal Cord injuries, Multiple Sclerosis, Guillain Barré syndrome
• Height range: 5’2″ — 6’2″
• Maximum weight: 220 lbs
• Maximum hip width: 17″

Other user requirements:
• Sufficient upper extremity strength to balance with crutches or walker
• Able to self-transfer from wheelchair to a regular chair
• Complete evaluation and screening by a medical provider before using device

• Upper extremity strength deficits that limit the ability to balance with crutches or walker
• Spinal instability (or spinal orthotics unless cleared by MD)
• Unresolved DVT
• Decreased standing tolerance due to orthostatic hypotension
• Significant osteoporosis that prevents safe standing (or risk of fracture due to
• Range of motion restrictions that would prevent safe, reciprocal gait or normal
sit-to-stand motion
• Uncontrolled spasticity
• Uncontrolled Autonomic Dysreflexia
• Non-functional upper extremity strength
• Skin integrity issues on contact surfaces of the device
• Cognitive impairments resulting in motor planning
or impulsivity concerns
• Pregnancy

Other Potential Areas of usage:
Neurological disorders such as Guillain Barre, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s disease and other diagnosis may benefit from gait training with Ekso if all inclusion criteria are met. Ekso offers a wide variety of research opportunities with SCI and other diagnostic groups. Ekso Personal will be available in late 2013 only through Ekso centers that will have the ability to prescribe units to patients appropriate for these devices.

To see this device in action go to

New Women’s Support Group to form!

VCU Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center is starting a support group just for women with a Parkinson’s diagnosis, to share experiences and coping strategies with other women.

WHEN:Friday, November 14th
TIME: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
6605 W. Broad Suite C
(accessed via Forest Ave)
Richmond, VA 2323

Please remember attendance is limited to women only.

Contact Andrea Perseghin
VCU Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center

Parkinson’s Vaccine Safe in Phase I Trial

A treatment that could slow or stop Parkinson’s disease today took one step closer to pharmacy shelves. The Austrian biotech AFFiRiS AG announced positive results of its Phase I safety trial of a vaccine against alpha-synuclein.
Alpha-synuclein is the sticky protein that clumps in the cells of people with Parkinson’s, and AFFiRiS hopes to stop disease by inducing antibodies against alpha-synuclein accumulation. The Michael J. Fox Foundation funded this work with close to $2M, first with a grant for a pre-clinical study and then $1.5M in 2011 for the Phase I trial. It’s the first drug against alpha-synuclein to reach clinical testing.
“A treatment that could slow or stop Parkinson’s progression would be a game changer for the five million worldwide living with this disease and the many more who will become at risk as our population ages,” said MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, PhD. “This trial is one of the most promising efforts toward that goal.”
In two different doses the drug, called PD01A, was safe and tolerable. Half of those vaccinated showed alpha-synuclein antibodies, which is a promising but very early sign. Further trials will test PDO1A’s benefit to patients.
The next step is a boost study that will test the safety and effect of a boost vaccination (another dose). MJFF will support that trial, which will take place in Vienna, Austria and start recruiting in September.
The AFFiRiS trial is one study in the Foundation’s robust alpha-synuclein portfolio.

VCU Parkinson’s & Movement Disorders Center Clinical Trial

PMDC is now in the final stages of recruitment for a clinical trial:
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and their Caregivers

This study will investigate potential benefits of a group-based stress reduction intervention on quality of life, physical health, and psychological functioning for individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers.

Participants will take part in weekly 1.5 hour group sessions for 8 weeks at the VCU PMDC. Therese Cash, MS, an advanced graduate student, is leading this project with Dr. Sarah Lageman providing guidance and oversight.

These weekly sessions will include:
· Instruction in and practice of mindfulness meditation
· Gentle yoga and other exercises
· Daily homework assignments including meditation practice for 30-45 minutes per day

The final series of groups will begin in mid-July and run through early September. This project is open to both individuals with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.

Registration will be limited to keep the group sizes small, and this will be the last opportunity to participate in this trial.

Please contact Therese Cash for more information or to sign up:
Phone: (434)-953-5370 (cell)
E-mail: verkerketk@vcu.edu

Yoga for Movement Disorders CONTINUES!

Mondays at 2pm at Project Yoga Richmond, 6517 Dickens Place, Richmond, VA 23230
Contact Sarah Humphries at (804)840-4881 or email: sarah.humphries@verizon.net
Download flyer PYR_continuesFlyer

June 30th will be final Monday this is offered.

However, Sarah offers a Genle EnJoYoga class most Saturdays at 10:30am at the same location and $10 recommended donation. This class is appropriate for people with PD. Contact her for details.

Gentle Yoga for PD – April 2014

Do you have Parkinson’s Disease, ET, dystonia, MS or another neurological condition?
Have you been curious about trying yoga?

PROJECT YOGA RICHMOND (PYR) is offering a 4 week gentle yoga class for people with movement disorders. Try one class or come to them all!

Dates: Mondays: April 7, April 14, April 21, and April 28, 2014
Time: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
Location: Project Yoga Richmond (PYR) studio is located at 6517 Dickens Place, Richmond, VA 23230 www.projectyogarichmond.org
Audience: Anyone with a movement disorder and their spouse or care partner
Cost: All on-site classes are donation-based. On-site suggested donation is $10 per class or pay what you can. (Cash and check only, please.)
Instructor: PYR Ambassador, Sarah Humphries, ERYT – 200

Questions? contact Lynn Klanchar (804) 675-6952 at PADRECC, MCGuire VAMC

download flyer PYR_Flyer