This high technology apparatus for the forearm is helping to restore hand movement in stroke patients.
High Tech, Bioness Device Returns Functionality to Paralyzed Hands
Ask anyone who has had a stroke what it’s like to lose the use of a hand and you can just feel the depth of their frustration. Take the case of 41-year-old Elaine Heaton.
“You try to live a normal life as a mother, to carry on as you once did, and you find that everything is difficult, everything is a challenge,” said Heaton.
But thanks to a new, advanced technology device at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, Heaton and other stoke victims now have hope. The institute is one of the first facilities in the country to offer assistance with a brace-like apparatus called the NESS H200, or Bioness. Equipped with electrodes that stimulate key muscles, it fits snugly over the forearm and hand to return much of the victim’s lost function.
“Basically, it’s an exercise tool,” said occupational therapist D’Anne Armaly. “It’s helpful to those who can’t exercise muscles on their own. It reeducates the hand muscles and gets them to fire when the patient wants,” she said.
The Bioness is designed to be used with a therapist at the rehabilitation institute, as well as at home where the device can be connected to a portable unit and easily operated by the patient.
Heaton likes to use hers while watching TV. Now, with patience and practice, she can move her fingers and wrist, and she can even pick up many objects.
According to the medical director for neuroscience at the institute and a professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, the Bioness is basically a non-invasive way of training the brain to relearn lost functions.
“It uses electrical stimulation to promote the opening of the hand to do the opposite of what the spastic non-functional recovery process would do,” he said. And according to Armaly, “The Bioness is very user friendly and nice for patients because they can take it home. You can set it up for them and be exact every time. So it makes a home program easy,” she said.
Retraining the brain to allow the patient to have finger movement without the brace-like device is the ultimate goal – something which Heaton has accomplished.
“Without the Bioness, I would not have progressed as far as I have,” she said. “I wouldn’t have movement in my hand without the help of this technology and the therapists. Now I can pick up a toy, and I try to do as much as I can without the instrument.”
High tech rehabilitation for stroke patients is taking place at the DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.
For more information or to schedule an appointment at any DMC facility, call 1- 888- DMC- 2500.