from Stroke and Technology Month
Here are some inspiring stories from stroke survivors and how they used technology to rehabilitate after stroke.
Michael Kosh enjoys getting outside and doing lawn work, pruning trees and bundling the limbs at the home of his daughter and son-in-law where he lives with his wife, Rhonda, in Stephensen, Va.
He plays with his grandchildren—4-year-old twin boys and a 2-year-old granddaughter—a year after experiencing 10 strokes in one night attributed to septic shock following surgery.
He spent more than a month in a Florida hospital followed by nearly a month at a rehabilitation hospital. He would need a wheelchair because of foot drop and experienced excruciating pain in his shoulder.
Retired from the Navy, Michael, 69, had been working fulltime as a deputy sheriff in Florida when the strokes sidelined him.
“I was in good health,” he said.
Following his strokes, Rhonda began researching technologies to relieve his shoulder pain and restore the use of his hand and foot. She came upon Bioness Inc. which outfitted Michael with three of its technological advances including:
- The L300® Foot Drop System which is a functional electrical stimulation system that is worn in a similar manner to a knee brace. Gentle stimulation is delivered to the peroneal nerve—just outside the knee—in a precise sequence that activates the muscles that lift the foot as needed to take a step.
- The H200® system that delivers low-level electrical stimulation to activate the nerves that control the muscle in the hand and forearm, helping patients regain their independence.
- The StimRouter® system which is an externally-worn, bandage-sized pulse generator that broadcasts gentle electrical pulses to a small, threadlike ‘lead’ implanted just below the skin directly to the nerve causing pain. These pulses essentially block the pain signals before they reach Michael’s brain. And he is in complete control of the timing and level of stimulation using a handheld, wireless remote.
“I had the StimRouter implant put in as an outpatient,” said Michael. “Before I couldn’t lift my arm up it hurt so bad. It works wonders. I’m able to raise my hand over my head with no pain—it is a miracle.”
Rhonda said that it’s helped with his rehab, too, because he’s able to do more range of motion exercises.
The technology restored Michael’s independence, making Rhonda feel comfortable enough to return to work as a high school counselor.
“I didn’t think I would ever be able to go back to work,” said Rhonda.
The married couple of 29 years met in the Navy, have eight children between them—including five who served in the military—and are looking forward to welcoming their 20th grandchild.
“We decided as part of his recovery that he really needed to be interactive and not home with downtime by himself, so the grandkids are keeping him very busy,” said Rhonda.
Now Michael looks forward to working out at the gym twice a week.
“Things have really improved for me,” said Michael. “My quality of life is pretty good.”
To learn more, visit http://www.stimrouter.com/dtcinquiries/
Suffering a stroke can be terrifying, but the effects afterwards can be equally devastating, as it was for Michael Eustace, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who served overseas for three years in the 1970s.
After suffering a series of strokes and a heart attack, Michael was left with a severely debilitated right hand along with severe pain. When he started his recovery, he was barely able to move the affected hand and could not perform many of the necessary tasks associated with daily living, such as making his bed and preparing meals for himself.
Working through the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, Michael began working with the RAPAEL Smart Glove from the comfort and convenience at home, training daily to restore function and mobility to his hand. Through exercises that feel like games but focus on movements necessary for recovery, Michael had “so much fun” with it. “At times it was hard,” he explained, “but you work against yourself. For me, it was like it opened up a world of things that I could do with my hand.”
The RAPAEL Smart Glove interacts wirelessly with a tablet that comes preloaded with over 45 training programs that mimic everyday movements, such as chopping vegetables or catching objects. With a motivational scoring system that encourages patients to improve each time they work on the activities, the Smart Glove makes the repetition needed in rehab training feel less repetitive.
His wife Ana, who witnessed the recovery from day one, has noticed marked improvements in Michael’s hand mobility. “He’s folding his laundry; he’s making his bed. He’s able to make his breakfast.”
Most importantly, Michael is able to bring back a sense of independence at home, slowly returning to life before the strokes. Ana, optimistic that Michael will continue to improve and recover, exclaims, “We’re back to normal. We’re happy, and he’s doing better.”
To learn more, visit http://www.neofect.com/en
Jessica Peters pulls a tray of freshly-baked dog biscuits from the oven at the New England Dog Biscuit Company in Salem, Mass., where she works with her dog Finky by her side.
“I love my job because dogs and baking are just awesome,” says Peters who six years ago at age 26 experienced a stroke caused by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 4—a rare vascular disease.
Her now-husband, Jon Peters, had found her struggling in the night. He recognized she was having a stroke and took her to the hospital where she had surgery.
“When I woke up I was thinking why can’t I speak; what happened to my head and I cried,” she recalls, adding that her time in the hospital is a blur.
She ultimately was transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in nearby Boston where her goal was to speak her wedding vows and walk on her father’s arm down the aisle at her backyard wedding five years ago.
“My right side is affected but I’m a lefty,” says Peters who found doing chores and even baking dog biscuits was not possible.
“I could not carry the trays from the oven and couldn’t ice the biscuits,” she says.
She went to work looking for a solution.
“I wanted to try everything because I wanted the use of my right hand badly,” she says.
Through online research she found Myomo Inc. in nearby Cambridge, Mass., a medical robotics company that offers expanded mobility to people with neurological disorders and upper-limb paralysis.
“Myomo is close to me so I’m lucky I was able to go there and speak with them,” said Peters.
Soon after, she was outfitted with the MyoPro® powered orthosis—a lightweight wearable device that restored function to her weakened right arm.
MyoPro does not require any implants or extensive training and it delivers no electric stimulation. Sensors built into the device simply contact the surface of the skin and read the myoelectric signals. It interprets these signals to move tiny motors in the device that assist in moving the elbow, wrist and hand the way the wearer intends.
For Peters that meant once again being able to pull trays out the oven and doing such everyday tasks as vacuuming, sweeping and loading the dishwasher at the home she and her husband bought since her stroke.
For her, MyoPro means a newfound freedom.
“I can do things now,” she said. “I am not disabled.”
To learn more, visit http://myomo.com/stroke/
National Stroke Association provides educational information about treatments for post-stroke issues through real-life stories. Promotion of these stories does not imply endorsement of any product or service and it is recommended that patients ask a healthcare professional before using any product, medicine, or therapy.