NORFOLK, Va. – The state’s only inpatient pediatric rehabilitation center will unveil a major renovation this week that features “ZeroG” technology, a robotic body-weight support device that will help children at CHKD gain the balance and strength to stand and walk after injuries and illnesses.

That’s just one feature of a year-long, $3.7 million renovation project that brings leading-edge technology to patients who are recovering from conditions such as traumatic brain injury, strokes, car accidents, and spinal injuries. The device will also help patients recovering from surgery and those with chronic conditions like cerebral palsy and developmental delays.

The ZeroG system, developed by Aretech, will hold and support patients from a robotic device that glides across an overhead track the length of a therapy gym ceiling, allowing patients to practice walking, going up stairs, and going from sitting to standing, without fear of falling. The system also can be adjusted to allow gradually more weight to be borne by the patient as they regain strength.

The “Soar” theme of the renovated unit includes U.S. Navy “Blue Angels” plane formations on the walls, and nurse stations that look like aircraft hangars, along with “runway” hallways with markers to motivate patients to walk and wheel themselves greater distances.

Navy pilots and former rehabilitation patients will join current patients, staff, and CHKD officials to celebrate the grand opening at noon on Thursday, October 17.

The rehabilitation inpatient unit treats more than 100 patients a year, who stay an average of three to four weeks. People come from all over the commonwealth and neighboring states. The renovated unit has eight private rooms with patient lifts that are attached to the ceiling and move along a track to the bathroom, for the safety of patients and staff. Patients began moving into the rooms in late August, but the therapy gym was only recently completed.

A suite of rooms simulates a home-like setting where patients can learn how to do daily activities like cooking, laundry, and dressing. One of the bathrooms looks like one you’d find in a regular house instead of a hospital so patients can prepare to transition home.

“The state-of-the-art technology on the unit aims to optimize functional recovery and independence for our patients,” said Dr. Katrina Lesher, medical director of CHKD’s physical medicine and rehabilitation program.

Members of the media are invited for tours of the unit during the grand opening. Please call or email Elizabeth Earley, or (757) 477-7286 in advance, if you will be attending, to meet in the lobby for an escort to the unit.

News Releases_Renovated Rehab Unit

CHKD Physical Therapist Michael Graham guides 5-year-old Lucas Guinn through a physical therapy session using ZeroG technology at CHKD's newly renovated therapy gym. The CHKD patient is relearning to walk after suffering a stroke in September.


CHKD is the only freestanding children’s hospital in Virginia and serves the medical and surgical needs of children throughout greater Hampton Roads, the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and northeastern North Carolina. The not-for-profit CHKD Health System operates primary care pediatric practices, surgical practices, multi-service health centers, urgent care centers, and satellite offices throughout its service region. Learn more at