Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus laid the cornerstone for a vastly expanded rehabilitation center on the north slope of the Mount Scopus Campus and witnessed the inauguration of the Lokomat, Israel’s most sophisticated robotic treadmill gait therapy machine.
A time capsule marking the date was buried, and those assembled sang “If I Forget Thee Jerusalem.”
For decades, the Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus Rehabilitation Department has helped tens of thousands of patients, including survivors of terrorist attacks, rescue and security forces, and those injured in road accidents and from disease. The new rehabilitation center will address the growth in Jerusalem’s population, including the longer life spans of Israeli citizens. The modular design by architect Arthur Spector harmonizes with the campus’s desert landscape and gives adequate space to patients and therapists with enlarged pools and training areas.
The treadmill was donated by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) whose founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, stated, “I have a strong connection to Hadassah Hospital, Hadassah the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and to the city of Jerusalem. In a world in which people talk about ‘branding,’ there is no greater ‘brand’ for healing than the word ‘Hadassah.’
“The IFCJ is proud to support this work, to help soldiers and civilians get back their ability to walk. Jerusalem is not only the capital of Israel, but the center of the world for the world’s major religions. The Fellowship will continue to support Hadassah Hospital in its sacred work.”
Rabbi Eckstein said he was strongly influenced in bringing the Lokomat project to the IFCJ by Dalia Itzik, the former Knesset speaker who chairs Hadassah International Israel.
Moshe Lion, making his first visit to the hospital as Jerusalem’s mayor, added, “Mount Scopus is one of the most important places in the history of the Jewish people. I am proud to inaugurate the Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus Rehabilitation Center that will serve the residents of Jerusalem, regardless of religion, race or gender — over a million people. I am also proud of the work in health and the spreading of Zionism by the women of Hadassah.”
Hadassah Director General Prof Ze’ev Rotstein stated, “I am a believer that rehabilitation needs to be built into the program of acute care.”
“We take our ability to walk for granted until we lose it and our independence,” said Mount Scopus Hospital Director Dr. Tamar Elram.
Dr. Isabella Schwartz, head of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, observed that “most of our patients come in wheelchairs, and there’s that great moment when they walk out of here.”
She said, “The Lokomat will play a major role, together with our devoted therapists. There is a video game that not only distracts the patients, but which moves them through virtual landscapes, not with a joystick, but interactively through the patient’s own leg movements. That’s a challenge for those who can barely move their legs.”
The new Lokomat simulates the natural flow of movement better and provides feedback on the progress of training, adjusting the regimen to move the patient ahead. The computer-aided electric motors are attached to the patients’ legs and stabilize them. Whatever the patients cannot do yet, such as lifting their legs, can be done by the robot. Sensors record the exertion and the independent movements of the patient. Robotic support and weight relief can be reduced to promote or extend existing residual movements.
Demonstrating the Lokomat was Dvir Teitelbaum, a soldier who came down with a debilitating neural disease during training and who was suddenly paralyzed. He was treated in the neurology department at Hadassah Ein Kerem and later transferred to rehabilitation, where he has worked for the last four months with the physical and occupational therapists. In recent weeks, he has begun using the Lokomat, and has already improved his ability to move his legs.