Rancho Los Amigos

Downey, California

SEARCHING filmed Alan’s conversation with Erik Sorto at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, California. Erik visited Rancho Los Amigos four times a week during the five and a half years he was an active collaborator in the facility's brain implantation research. More recently, he has continued to receive treatment at Rancho as part of his ongoing therapy. The RLA campus is impressive, and the location where Alan and Erik met is equipped with multiple machines, making it look like a high-end gymnasium. Thanks to USC’s Dr. Charles Liu (Erik’s implantation surgeon) and Rancho’s Rochessa Washington for assistance with the complex logistics associated with this sequence.

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Rancho Los Amigos

“The Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center has been a facility specializing in treating individuals with a significant disability for many years. We have seen firsthand that as people live active lives with mobility impairments, it is extremely common for musculoskeletal and orthopedic problems to develop. The Musculoskeletal and Orthopedic Physical Therapy program focuses on the expert assessment and treatment of complex musculoskeletal conditions. The highly specialized clinicians in this program use movement re-education, skilled manual techniques, and targeted strengthening and therapeutic exercise to optimize functional capacity and reduce pain and dysfunction. Injury prevention and wellness are addressed through collaboration and education with others treating patients along the continuum of care through research, advanced training programs, and by providing interventions and information to patients and their families to mitigate specific musculoskeletal risks.

At Rancho Los Amigos, rehabilitation does not end when a patient returns home. Outpatient Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy offer a full range of traditional Outpatient Therapy Services via in-person and telehealth visits to meet a variety of patient needs.  Specialty programs include Driver Rehabilitation and Training, Work Rehabilitation, Lifestyle Redesign, Seating Center, the Center for Applied Rehabilitation Technology (CART), Balance and Vestibular, Musculoskeletal and Orthopedic Physical Therapy, and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction/Incontinence. These specialty services offer additional expertise to assist individuals in successfully transitioning home and reintegrating into the community.”

Rancho Los Amigos Foundation

The Rancho Los Amigos Foundation was established in 1983 to raise funds for programs, services, and equipment for Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. It is the mission of the Foundation to help pediatric and adult patients whose lives have been forever changed through disabling injuries or illnesses, experience the Restoration of Health, the Rebuilding of Lives, and the Revitalization of Hope.

Working with donors large and small, the Foundation has helped provide critical funding for the patients of Rancho Los Amigos. Patients at Rancho Los Amigos come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. The support of the Foundation allows these patients to participate in programs that are unfunded by insurance, outside of the patient’s financial means, or outside of traditional Los Angeles County funding practices.

Each year, Rancho Los Amigos sees thousands of patients who have suffered spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological disorders. The Foundation is honored to assist Rancho Los Amigos in its goal to help each patient build a personal bridge to independence.

Source: Rancho Los Amigos
The highly specialized clinicians at Ranchos Los Amigos use movement re-education, skilled manual techniques, and targeted strengthening and therapeutic exercise to optimize functional capacity and reduce pain and dysfunction.
Erik Sorto (left), featured in Program 3 "Homo Techno", has contributed to the development of life-enhancing technological advancements as a patient at Rancho Los Amigos.
Watch Icon The SCIENCE & SURGERY Behind the Erik Sorto Story

Thanks to permission to use footage and for much appreciated cooperation from USC Keck and Caltech, this video gives voice to Dr. Richard Andersen, the leading researcher who conceived of the idea of implanting electrodes, for the first time, in a particular section of the brain where thought alone might trigger movement; to Dr. Charles Liu, the skilled surgeon who led the operation to implant the electrodes, and continued to collaborate with Erik through the 5.5 years of his participation in the research project, and to Dr. Christi Heck, who ensured Erik’s safety during and after the operation. For updates on Dr. Andersen’s more recent research and publications, please visit his lab's Caltech website.