Office Of Public Affairs

New Technology Gives Patients a Hand

Oct 28, 2007 6:00 PM

Getting dressed, brushing teeth, and taking a sip of water are simple tasks that most of us take for granted. But for Carl Cochran, who suffered a stroke in February, they became impossible. The stroke, which impaired the left side of his body, also inhibited him from writing (he's left-handed) and sitting upright without support.

A new device used in University Health Care's Rehabilitation Center, however, is enabling Cochran and patients like him to regain the use of an impaired limb and begin to perform everyday tasks again.

The device, known as the NESS H200, is worn on the patient's forearm and hand, providing electrical stimulation to the muscles in the affected area. The H200 differs from traditional electrical stimulation therapy because it not only helps the hand open and close, but it also has six stimulation patterns to increase strength and range of motion, enabling patients to practice specific tasks, such as grasping a glass or picking up car keys.

"Each patient is also custom fit for the device, enabling the therapists to more accurately target the affected areas consistently," says Reva Rauk, P.T., Ph.D., manager for professional development and research in Rehabilitation Services who assisted with getting four devices for the center. The H200 also can stimulate muscles in the arms of traumatic brain and spinal cord injury patients, with hopes of accelerating their recovery.

Immediately following his daily therapy session, Cochran is able to use his hand on his own to perform tasks or exercises. He is encouraged by the small, but significant gain in his hand's functionality immediately following the therapy.

Visit our Spotlight Archive for a complete list of previous Spotlights.