Multiple sclerosis may have changed Rob Engel’s life, but it hasn’t slowed him down. After spending more than 25 years working in politics, Rob is now the Vice President for Domestic Policy for the American Automotive Policy Council, the industry group that works on behalf of the shared policy interests of Fiat/Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. He has been teaching at George Washington University since 1995 while spending the last two years as its Director of the Semester in Washington Politics Program. Rob is also active in both the National and State Multiple Sclerosis Societies.
A devoted husband and father, Rob’s interest and involvement in politics, policy, and advocacy in Washington D.C. spans decades. His proactive personality may explain why he’s done so well living with multiple sclerosis since his diagnosis in 2002.
At least once a week for more than 15 years, Rob drives from his home in Arlington, Virginia to physical therapy at the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute in Baltimore. His routine includes one hour on the Lokomat, a robotic device that simulates walking for patients with neurological or spinal cord impairments.
The University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute is one of only two facilities in Maryland and one of approximately 25 institutions in the United States that owns a Lokomat. The device supports the patient in a parachute harness while moving their legs on a treadmill. It creates a smooth repetitive motion that helps to stimulate areas of the spinal cord thought to control the ability to walk.
Along with regular exercise, Rob credits his weekly trips to the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute and his time spent on the Lokomat with maintaining his mobility over the years.
“I know what the hospital and the Lokomat has done for me. I know I’m stronger, more mobile, and faster,” Rob says. “My doctors are very clear with me and have been clear with me for a long time — the reason I am so mobile is because of the Lokomat and staying active.”
Rob’s belief in the Lokomat is so strong that he made a philanthropic gift to the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute to help purchase a newer model when the old machine broke down. He’s very much enjoying the new Lokomat, which runs smoother and includes several technological upgrades.
“I know what the Lokomat does for me and I felt that it was my responsibility to help out with the purchase. I know it was a big expenditure for the hospital,” Rob explains. “I’m greatly appreciative to the physical therapists and the hospital for making these important investments—not only in the Lokomat, but in so many other devices and programs that help patients live their best life.”
To make a gift to the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute, please click here.