Gery Colombo was working with Balgrist Hospital when he conducted functional gait therapy as a part of his research. But the functional gait therapy two decades ago was done manually and was strenuous for both therapists and patients as it needed three therapists; one to put and securely hold a patient in an upright position and one on each foot to move the patient’s legs in a walking pattern over a treadmill. However, the limitation was the therapists holding the patients as more than often they would get tired. The method was neither efficient nor effective and being an engineer, Gery knew there had to be a better solution and particularly a machine to solve this trouble. So, he asked his two friends, Peter Hostettler and Matthias Jörg, if they would be ready to take gait therapy a big step further. They immediately agreed and together they started developing the Lokomat – a robot that would do the intensive gait therapy. Around this robot, the three of them started their company, Hocoma.
The Industry Leader in Robotic Rehabilitation
Two decades later, Hocoma is the global market leader in robotic rehabilitation therapy for movement disorders employing more than 150 people at its headquarters near Zurich and in its subsidiaries in the USA, Slovenia, Singapore and Chile.
Since 2016, Hocoma merged with DIH International and its partner Motek to further extend its thought leadership as a total solution provider for human movement therapy.
Focused on Human Movement Therapy
In this role, Hocoma offers efficient solutions and services with advanced technologies for human movement therapy across the entire continuum of rehabilitation. All their solutions are developed, manufactured and continuously improved in close cooperation with researchers, clinical partners and customer feedback. Hocoma’s solutions aim to focus on human movement therapy, and for as much as this, they provide robotic as well as assistive and sensor-based medical devices for any sort of movement disorders, be it gait & balance, arm and hand training or therapy to increase strength, coordination and endurance. Their therapy solutions support the treatment of patients with movement disorders caused by stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy or other neurological diseases and injuries as well as low back pain patients. Moreover, they assist with clinical application and clinical integration services while providing financial and marketing support as well as technical services to ensure a smooth transition from the purchase until the daily usage in clinical life.
Lokomat: A Robotic Device Transforming Lives
The Lokomat is a robotic medical device that provides functional gait therapy for paralyzed patients. A gait therapy device on a treadmill with a robotic gait orthosis, dynamic body-weight support and motivating exercises in an augmented reality environment with a constant audio and visual feedback. The first Lokomat was sold in 2002 and they are now selling the sixth-generation Lokomat, including a downsized model for smaller budgets and optional accessory to treat children. More than 300 studies have been published on Lokomat therapy in peer-reviewed journals and proved positive effects; enhanced efficiency and efficacy of locomotion training of intensive Lokomat therapy.
Accompanying the Customers in the Most Effective and Efficient Way
Hocoma’s customers are mostly rehabilitation facilities, hospitals and clinics around the globe. The team does not simply develop and manufacture devices; but they also accompany their customers through the whole process of planning, buying and using the rehabilitation solutions in the most effective and efficient way. Hocoma has been one of the first companies in advanced rehabilitation technologies, so all their solutions and services are based on the rich experience in the market and they work together closely with both, research and customers, to further improve.
Emotional Drivers that Keep them Going
Every time Hocoma gets the sort of feedback when people overcome their medical prognosis, it fills the entire team with pride and proves their purpose. There are numerous cases of patients who were predicted to never walk again or stay unable to use their arms and hands. Every single one of them with improved movement capabilities in his limbs is a success for Hocoma. Whether it is Phil from the US who had a car accident which put him in a wheelchair, who was able to stand at his friend’s wedding as best man only a couple of years after the accident or Nele from Germany who was born with some undefined disability and was able to take her first independent steps at the age of five. These successes are the emotional drivers that keep Gery and his team going.
Constantly Developing and Improving Existing Products
The team is constantly developing and improving their existing products. Within upper extremity rehabilitation, they are about to launch ArmeoSenso – a sensor-based therapy solution for smaller clinics with moderate or mild impaired patients. And they are also developing a new groundbreaking robotic device that will change the face of the medical industry for the better.