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AAOS Now

Published 12/1/2007
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Carolyn Rogers

Walter Reed keeps pace

The Center for the Intrepid isn’t the only place you’ll find soldier-amputees shooting virtual weapons, driving a virtual car, or rappelling down a cliff.

These technologies and more are also available at a newly-opened rehabilitation center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in Washington, D.C.

The facility—the Military Advanced Training Center for Soldier Amputees—offers state-of-the art physical and occupational therapy, sports programs, virtual-reality systems, and training with prosthetics to help troops regain a range of abilities.

The $10 million, 31,000 square-foot center is specifically designed for outpatients—troops who have already completed initial rehab for their wounds in the main hospital clinics.

All of the hospital’s advanced amputee care elements are brought together at the Military Advanced Training Center, which also benefits patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder.

State-of-the-art rehabilitation
In addition to a running track, climbing ropes, treadmills, elliptical trainers, and a climbing and rappelling wall, the center also features the one-of-a kind Solo-Step system. After strapping into the Solo-Step harness, which is connected to a track in the ceiling, wounded soldiers are able to walk independently around a 240-foot circuit without danger of falling.

The center also offers a high-tech weapon simulator and vehicle simulator, as well as an automotive engine repair area where soldiers can work on their fine motor skills and dexterity.

The new high-tech gait lab is nearly double the size of Walter Reed’s previous lab. In addition, a computer-assisted rehabilitation environment—similar to the CAREN at the Center for the Intrepid in Texas—helps amputee soldiers adapt to real-life scenarios.

Facility, equipment designed for portability
Funding for the Military Advanced Training Center was approved by Congress in 2004, before a national commission decided that WRAMC would eventually be closed as part of a base realignment. The cinder-block building was designed so that equipment can later be removed and relocated to another military amputee center.