Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a stroke, impacting a person’s ability to walk, move and to speak.
For most patients who survive, progress plateaus after six months of therapy. Now, a new breakthrough device is helping people regain the use of their hands, years, even decades, after their stroke.
With his poles and tackle box, Mark Forrest is off to do what he loves best. But, Mark thought he had reeled in his last six fish years ago.
“He was slurring, he couldn’t move his hand. And, so I just told him, I said ‘You’re having a stroke.'” said Patti Forrest, Mark’s Wife.
“By the time I got to the hospital, my whole right side was dead,” said Mark Forrest, Stroke Survivor.
During the next six months, Mark gained a little movement back but not much.
“I was getting really depressed. I was like ‘I gotta figure out something.'” Forrest said.
Neurosurgeon Eric Leuthardt created the exoskeleton that uses electrical signals in the brain to control hand movement.
“Their brain essentially relearns how to use a different part of the brain to affect control of that paralyzed hand,” Leuthardt said.
A non-invasive headset picks up the brain signals through the scalp, sending the signals wirelessly to the robotic arm. A tablet walks the patient through exercises, using the device for an hour a day.
“It’s used to really retrain your brain to rewire your brain. So, you don’t need this system in the long run,” Leuthardt said.
Patients who had their stroke six months ago or even ten years ago have seen improvement. As for Mark, he’s now able to fish again and even built his own boat.
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