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Patent Pending Innovations in Walking Therapy

As both a patent attorney and stroke survivor, I have realized that there is a wealth of information in patents and patent applications (generally referred to together as "patents") about stroke recovery. Patents are almost always written by a technical expert and always subject to an extensive review process.

Stroke survivors who are not content with how their walking has progressed have another, detailed option to explore for new gait techniques and walking therapy advancements. Looking at pending patent applications exclusively, here is what some of the pending patent applications say about walking therapy for stroke:

Patent No. Title Inventors Assignee (Owner) Comments
2009/0221
928
Motor Training with Brain Plasticity Omer Einav, Ernesto Korenman, Samuel Faran, Richard Mahoney Motorika Limited (Hamilton, BM) This patent application describes a device that uses brain activity measurements for rehabilitation.
2009/0062
698*
Methods and Apparatuses for Rehabilitation and Training Omer Einav, Halm Einav, Benny Rousso, Doron Shabanov, Eran Katzir, Gad Binyamini Motorika, Inc. (Tortola, VG) This patent application notes that, presently, costs for rehabilitation are high and compliance after a patient leaves a treatment center is low, and it describe a better alternative: a home physical therapy device designed for both physical rehabilitation and training.
2008/0132
383*
Device and Method for Training, Rehabilitation and/or Support Omer Einav, Halm Einav, Richard Maloney Tylerton International Inc. (Tortola, VG) This patent application describes a "wellness apparatus" that can provide assistance and exercise safety to a disabled person at home.
2008/0161
733*
Methods and Apparatus for Rehabilitation and Training Omar Einav, Halm Einav, Richard Mahoney, Ester Zohar Motorika Limited (Hamilton, BM) This patent application deals with manipulation of a body, for example for physical rehabilitation and/or training. It describes a rehabilitation apparatus with at least three degrees of motion for use at a person’s home.
2008/0234
113*
Gait Rehabilitation Methods and Apparatus Omer Einav Motorika, Inc. (Tortola, VG) This patent application deals with a portable device that can be used to target and exercise various operative components of a person’s gait to achieve gait improvement.
2008/0234
781*
Neuromuscular Stimulation Omer Einav, Ernesto Korenman Motorika, Inc. (Tortola, VG) This patent application describes a rehabilitation device (with a Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation or "NMES" component) for rehabilitating a patient who has motor control problems.
2008/0242
521*
Methods and Apparatus for Rehabilitation Exercise and Training Omer Einav Motorika, Inc. (Tortola, VG) Describes a rehabilitation chair system for manipulation of body parts, for example for physical rehabilitation and/or rehabilitation of balance disorders and/or training body parts and/or treatment of pain and/or exercise.
2008/0287
268*
Body Weight Support System and Method of Using the Same Joseph Hidler None indicated on the patent application Includes nearly 2 dozen photographs of a "body-weight support system that allows individuals with severe gait impairments to practice over-ground walking in a safe, controlled manner."
2007/0004
567*
Ambulatory Suspension and Rehabilitation Apparatus Devdas Shetty, Avital Fast, Claudio Campana None indicated on the patent application Describes an ambulatory suspension system for gait rehabilitation
2007/0016
116*
Design of Robotic Gait Rehabilitation by Optimal Motion of the Hip David Reinkensmeyer, Susan Harkema, V. Reggie Edgerton, Jamie Bobrow, Chui Yu Wang None indicated on the patent application Describes a method and a robotic device for locomotion training using means for shifting a person’s pelvis without contacting his or her legs so the person can move using their legs on a moveable surface (e.g., a treadmill surface).
2007/0171
199*
Locomotion Simulation Apparatus, System and Method Clement Gosselin None indicated on the patent application Describes a motion simulation system for providing force feedback to a user in response to the user’s movement.
2007/0299
371*
Methods and Apparatus for Rehabilitation and Training Omer Einav, Haim Einav, Benny Rousso, Doron Shabanov, Eran Katzir, Gad Binyamini None indicated on the patent application Describes a home rehabilitation device that guides a person to perform a motion correctly by applying one or more pushing, assisting, reminding, responding and/or resisting forces during a motion (or intent to move) by the patient.
2006/0100
546*
Self-Contained Real-Time Gait Therapy Device Jeffrey Silk None indicated on the patent application Describes using speaker output to modify and improve gait.
2006/0292
533*
System and Method for Gait Training Omar Selod None indicated on the patent application Describes an ambulation assistance device (like a walker) including a projection device (like a small light projector) that shines a guide target on the ground to guide the device user.

* For convenience in referring to the patent applications, identifying numbers are highlighted.

These patents were retrieved by running a keyword search of patent applications in the U.S. Patent Office electronic database. Here’s my procedure:

  • I located all of the patent applications that include the words "gait" and "rehabilitation" (which was 569 patent applications on Sept. 14, 2009).
  • I examined the titles of all 569 patent applications to see which were of interest to me.
  • I read their summaries (that were also in the Patent Office’s database). I included the patent applications that I still found interesting in the chart.

Only about 30 percent of the patents you can examine on the Internet have an active limited monopoly period, which grants the patent’s author exclusive rights to the patent for a limited time. About 70 percent of them you can use freely.

Patents are easy to read. One reason for this is because the reader is interested in what they say. Second, patents are often written for the average person. Third, patents often have a common format:

  • A need is described.
  • Examples are given on how people have previously attempted to fill the need.
  • The lapses or problems with how the need has been filled so far are described.
  • Details are given for a new way of fulfilling that need and resolving the problem.

A new development in walking (gait) therapy is discussed in a new patent filing about every third day. Many developments are filed by regular people rather than big corporations.

I’ve only skimmed the surface of the information available in the patents. You can select other patents that I did to look at or focus on portions of the patents I didn’t mention in the chart (such as rehabilitation of "balance" for walking). Until a stroke survivor is satisfied with his or her level of recovery, looking in patent applications for ways to improve that level of recovery is an important option.

The Patent Process

Patents are an excellent source of information about the latest. Also, as a patent attorney I know that much of the information in patents can be freely used by anyone. Here is a chartthat illustrates that:

State 1 State 2 State 3
A patent application – not yet looked at by a patent examiner An issued patent – approved by a patent examiner An expired patent – more than 20 years having passed since it was filed
No active limited monopoly – it CANNOT be infringed Active limited monopoly period – HOWEVER, you can "design around" the issued patent if you want No active limited monopoly period – it CANNOT be infringed
Published and examinable on the Internet 18 months after filing Always examinable on the Internet On the Internet from 1790 on (with some search limitations for documents dated Dec. 31, 1975, and earlier)
Includes about 1 million documents Includes about 2.6 million documents Includes about 5 million documents

By: Roger Maxwell, Marathon runner, patent attorney, author of Taking Charge of Your Stroke Recovery: A Personal Recovery Workbook, Visit website

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