Wil Ritchie (17), is using a state-of-the-art body weight support treadmill and walking hoist as part of his ongoing physiotherapy treatment and has already seen an improvement in his running technique after just a few sessions.
Wil, who lives in Forfar with his family, is continuing his road to recovery after a mountain biking accident in 2020 left him with a serious brain injury. He spent more than nine months in hospital and following intense rehabilitation with the physiotherapy team at Ninewells, Wil has continued to make incredible progress.
The new specialist hoist is attached to a therapy treadmill, which provides additional body weight support for patients during their physiotherapy rehabilitation sessions. Using the body weight support hoist, Wil can now run for around 15 minutes covering up to 1.5 km during his physiotherapy sessions, five times longer than he could without the hoist.
Wil, who hopes to become a physiotherapist one day, is confident the new equipment will help support lots of patients like him.
He said: “I always like to run as fast as I can. I can see the hoist benefiting so many people who are making progress just like me and also those who were just like me when I first started rehab. It will really help people.
“I have only used it a few times so far. It was a little strange to get used to at first but it really helps. I can do more and push myself harder.”
Wil’s mum Karen said she is thrilled the new piece of equipment is now available in Tayside.
“This new machine is amazing. We couldn’t believe what Wil was able to do the first time he tried it,” she said. “He has only used it a few times so far but it has helped him enormously.
“We are so proud of him, he’s a very positive person and he never gives up. He has just worked so hard every day, supported by the physio team. To see him running as fast as he can is an amazing thing. He is much more confident after using it and you can see his running technique has improved; he’s bringing his knees up more and doing more than he could ever do.
“We were excited when we were told about the new piece of kit being available in Tayside, not just for Wil, but also for all the people with different kinds of disabilities that this will help.”
The treadmill and walking hoist is based in the East of Scotland Major Trauma Centre at the hospital, which provides dedicated trauma services to help patients with significant injuries to recover more quickly.
The system benefits those at all levels of rehabilitation from a patient’s first step to attempting to run for the first time. It can be used to improve a patient’s ability to stand and walk, for strengthening exercises and also to assist with daily living activities.