Music Helps Amputees Regain Their Gait


MIAMI. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — A young woman lost her leg in a horrible accident. Now a new app is helping her and other amputees get back on their feet moving to the music.

Sometimes Kelly Finnieston can’t believe it’s been 15 years since a boat trip with friends turned tragic.

Finnieston told Ivanhoe, “I was actually treading water behind the boat when the captain turned on the motor and I was sucked into the propeller.”

Finnieston woke up in the hospital. Her leg had been amputated.

Finnieston detailed, “Mentally that was really hard for me. I wasn’t ready to accept it.”

She got a prosthetic leg, but trying to walk like she used to was a challenge.

“You really have to be conscious of your body position and the way that you’re walking,” said Finnieston.

That’s where physical therapist Bob Gailey, PhD, PT, and his team of researchers at the University of Miami came in to help.

“We brought together a team that wanted to incorporate today’s technology into rehabilitation,” detailed Gailey. (Read Full Interview)

They created an app called Reload. It uses music to help amputees walk properly using their prosthesis. The chip takes the information of how the patient should walk and transmits that wirelessly to their tablet or iPhone. Then they pick their playlist and off they go.

Gailey explained, “They will hear the warped music or something of that nature and it reminds them they need to walk better.”

The app also gives them verbal cues.

“You need to roll over your toe. You need to move your hips,” said Gailey.

Finnieston said, “It’s so important to me to walk the way that I used to walk,” and she’s making sure every step counts.

The research team is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. They hope to have the program available to the public in the next year and a half.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Janna Ross, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Judy Reich, Videographer.



TOPIC:       Music Helps Amputees Regain their Gait

REPORT:   MB #4223


BACKGROUND: A limb amputation is the surgical removal of a limb such as an arm, leg, foot, hand, toe or finger. Amputation of a leg, either below or above the knee, is the most common form of amputation. About 1.8 million of Americans have been through an amputation. The most common reason for amputation is poor circulation. Other causes may include: severe injuries, cancerous tumors on the bone or muscle of the limb, serious infection that has not healed with antibiotics, thickening of nerve tissue and frostbite.

RE-LEARNING TO WALK: It can be very difficult to accept the loss of a limb. Learning how to walk in a new prosthetic is very difficult, too. Learning how to walk with a prosthesis is a new skill that takes time to become comfortable with. The process requires patience, time and good attitude. It can take months and even years for amputees to be completely comfortable when using the prosthetic in their daily lives.

RELOAD APP:  Physical therapist Bob Gailey and his team of researchers at the University of Miami created an App called “Reload” which uses music to help amputees walk properly when using their prosthesis. The idea of this app came about from noticing that most of war veterans listened to music in their ear buds. The program works by placing a chip in the prosthetic of the patient that communicates wirelessly to the app. The app possesses artificial technology built into it that analyzes the motions it is recording and can make a decision about how the person is walking. The only thing the amputee has to do is choose a song. They receive feedback from the app.  It can tell the patient to tighten their buttocks, roll their toe or move their hip. People can walk correctly without thinking, and if they’re trying to match the movement of the music, this can become intuitive.  The patient’s therapist can also check this data to determine if the patient is making any progress. Currently, the research team is working with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Department of Defense, and they hope to have this program available to the public in the next year and a half.
(Source: Bob Gailey & Christopher Bennett)



Natasha Crowther


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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Bob Gailey, PhD, PT

Read the entire Q&A