Healthcast: Music Helps Amputees Regain Gait


A young woman lost her leg in a horrible accident. Now a new app is helping her and other amputees get back on their feet moving to the music.

Sometimes Kelly Finnieston can’t believe it’s been 15 years since a boat trip with friends turned tragic.

Finnieston said, “I was actually treading water behind the boat when the captain turned on the motor and I was sucked into the propeller.”

Finnieston woke up in the hospital. Her leg had been amputated.

Finnieston detailed, “Mentally that was really hard for me. I wasn’t ready to accept it.”

She got a prosthetic leg, but trying to walk like she used to was a challenge.

“You really have to be conscious of your body position and the way that you’re walking,” said Finnieston.

That’s where physical therapist Bob Gailey, PhD, PT, and his team of researchers at the University of Miami came in to help.

“We brought together a team that wanted to incorporate today’s technology into rehabilitation,” detailed Gailey.

They created an app called Reload. It uses music to help amputees walk properly using their prosthesis. The chip takes the information of how the patient should walk and transmits that wirelessly to their tablet or iPhone. Then they pick their playlist and off they go.

Gailey explained, “They will hear the warped music or something of that nature and it reminds them they need to walk better.”

The app also gives them verbal cues.

“You need to roll over your toe. You need to move your hips,” said Gailey.

Finnieston said, “It’s so important to me to walk the way that I used to walk,” and she’s making sure every step counts.

The research team is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. They hope to have the program available to the public in the next year and a half.

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