UP physical therapy patients celebrate NewGait

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 1:22 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Inside Campfire Coworks in Marquette, physical therapy patients celebrated their accomplishments using a specialized walking device.

Julie Vallier is one among many to benefit from using the NewGait device. In 2015, Vallier was diagnosed with Friedrich’s Ataxia, a neuro-muscular disorder.

“I used to be a runner and things slowly started to deteriorate before I knew what was going on with me physically,” Vallier said.

She attended physical therapy with UP Health System Rehab Services, where she learned of the device.

“Just to be upright and walking is amazing. It’s something you take for granted and I really just have no words to describe how it makes me feel to be walking,” Vallier said.

NewGait was launched nearly 6 years ago as the Speed Maker, an athlete-geared invention for strengthening hip flexors through straps and resistance bands. UPHS Physical Therapist Director Kim Spranger, who recommended it to Vallier, said it opens up many opportunities for people with low mobility.

“It is the ultimate goal in therapy to watch people move better and when you give them a tool that they can go home and use on their own it’s even better,” Spranger said.

Dr. Roger Washington is a physician from California and an investor in the device, he described the feeling of wearing NewGait and how it helps patients.

“If you’ve ever tried on a piece of tight clothing as an athlete you feel your body in space and you feel like you can use it better. Part of it is psychological but part of it actually is effective,” Washington said.

Spranger said NewGait is working with the University of Michigan to further develop and customize the device.

“We have clinicians in 11 states now using this device, so we’ve really been able to get some traction and take our little idea here to the world,” Spranger said.

For more information on NewGait click here.