Hadassah rehab facility uses anti-gravity device to heal wounded medic


Twenty-two-year-old Dvir is a combat medic from the Nahal Brigade, who lives with his family in Gush Etzion. During the first days of the war against Hamas, he was hit in his leg by shrapnel from a mortar shell in his leg. Despite the injury, while tying a tourniquet to himself, he continued to help everyone around him and even managed to deliver medical equipment to his wounded comrades as the bullets whistled overhead.

With the arrival of the IDF forces to the area, he was flown by helicopter to Jerusalem’s Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem and rushed for urgent treatment of specialists in surgery, orthopedics, neurology and blood vessels. He barely felt amid all the fighting and concern for his friends around the shrapnel that also hit his head.

After undergoing complex surgery on his leg at Hadassah Ein Kerem and the shrapnel injury to his head was also treated, Dvir – in a wheelchair – was transferred to Hadassah’s rehabilitation department at on Mount Scopus.

There he was shown how to walk on an anti-gravity device like that used by NASA for astronauts that simulates a zero-weight environment and makes possible gradual rehabilitation from walking injuries. The technology is intended for the rehabilitation of the injured who are unable to put weight down on their feet. “When I train on the device, I feel as if I am walking like before, before the injury,” he said. 

“Here I am, already fighting to be like I was before my injury,” he asserted. “Every day, with the physical therapy and the use of the devices I train on, I make more progress and am already walking with crutches. Only when I get off it do I remember that I’m not there yet, but I’m fully on my way to walking with both feet independently. There is no other option for me.”

The entrance to the Emergency room at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem on November 1, 2020 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

NASA and Israel work hand-in-hand

Prof. Isabella Schwartz, director of the hospital’s rehabilitation department, explained that the device – the first of its kind and only one in Jerusalem, was imported from the US. “It allows the staff amazing therapeutic options. Dvir steps a little and floats with air flowing from below, allowing him to step on his leg in an incomplete, measured and supervised manner almost immediately after surgery. His progress in rehabilitation is much faster than what we have known so far.”

Schwartz added that the device protects the patient from all sides and guides his steps on a walking track. “Over time, and at the pace of each patient’s personal progress, we increase the weight we allow him to step on. This gradual treatment allows for a more efficient and correct rehabilitation. Dvir shows an admirable determination in the struggle to get back on his feet,” Schwartz concluded. “This determination and the desire to move forward is an inspiration to everyone around him.”


The device first used at NASA was bought for Hadassah-Mount Scopus with a donation from Hadassah International-Israel. “This technology definitely proves itself in the rehabilitation of various types of injuries and wounds that limit or prevent walking such as muscle weakness or balance problems,” Schwartz said. She added that sports injuries can also be rehabilitated with anti-gravity and that the players of the Real Madrid soccer team, as well as top-class tennis players use it.

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