Walter Reed Army Medical Center Military Amputee Training Center

This 31,000-square foot, $10 million facility combines offices, physical therapy rooms, lounges, an indoor running track, a climbing wall, and virtual reality-walking, media, prosthetics and robotics research centers, as well as a gait analysis room. It is designed to bring together all the hospital’s elements of advanced amputee care, but much of it also will benefit other patient’s, such as those suffering from traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic street disorder.

The hospital’s gait lab has nearly doubled its size in the new building. The lab electronically records patients’ movements while wearing prosthetic devises to give feedback to the patients and specialists on rehabilitation efforts. It can now record movements from 23 camera angles, up from eight, and has six force plates, up from four, that measure pressure put on the ground as steps are taken. It also added a treadmill built into the floor that will allow specialists, for the first time, to collect force plate data from soldiers while running. One of only three in the world, a high-tech computer-assisted rehabilitation environment was added to the center to help amputee soldiers adapt to real-life scenarios. In from of a large projection screen, soldiers stand on an elevated, multi-axis platform that rocks and sways as the computer-driven scenario changes. In one scenario, the patients stand as if in a boat as it moves through a course. In other scenarios, patients are required to raise their hands while moving to hit objects that appear to be flying by. This helps patients become more stable and confident using their prosthetic devises. An indoor running rack encircles “upper-extremities” workout areas. One half of the top floor is open to allow soldiers to look down on the others using the lower-extremities workout equipment. A climbing wall rises from the lower level, and climbing ropes and a rappelling wall allow patients to develop overhead skills and confidence. Windows allow sunlight to stream throughout. Also among the treatment rooms are areas that offer practice walking on uneven terrain features, such as sand, gravel and cobblestone. The new center is for those who are in the more advanced stages of rehabilitation. It designed to transition patients from their basic recovery to either returning home back to or duty.