Light shimmers off the glass on the 19th floor of the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab. A patient in a harness walks up the grand staircase with a slow, but unfaltering pace while a physical therapist monitors progress. It’s a new way of rehabilitation that proves recovery is truly one step at a time.
Taking a concept regularly used in the entertainment industry, Chicago Flyhouse designed a three-dimensional flying system bringing the above scenario to reality.
In past methods, patient recovery took place in environments more likened to a gym atmosphere. The patient would get on a treadmill or a stationary bike to mimic real-life scenarios. The Ability Lab looked to Flyhouse to break free from the typical and understand the true needs of a patient.
The two key elements of the design process were creating an environment where patients comfortably recovered without impugning the overall aesthetics of the room and taking the machine feel out of a system.
The Strength and Endurance Lab integrates multiple stations where patients are asked to complete a different series of tasks whether it be maneuvering through an obstacle course or climbing a staircase.
Flyhouse designed a custom track that goes from the ground level to the landing of a staircase. It is there a patient transfers to the three-dimensional rig connected to Flyhouse’s system that follows the patient up and down the stairs. The physical therapist regulates the rate of speed with an ergonomically designed handheld wireless controller while another can monitor on a control panel located at the bottom of the stairs. If a patient were to lose balance, they instantly would hover securely in place in their harness.
Integrated over three floors of the Ability Lab, the system is noticeable only by the four-points connecting from the ceiling to the spreader bar above the harness. The four motors used to operate are hidden and noiseless. In essence, Flyhouse took the machine out of it like promised.
By adapting a unique solution from Flyhouse’s specialty to better solve another problem, thousands of patients each year are beginning to forge a path to recovery in an environment befitting to them.