Best Life: Device helping stroke patients regain function years later

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 6:36 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Every 40 seconds someone in the United States suffers a stroke, impacting a person’s ability to walk, to move and to speak. For most patients who survive, progress plateaus after six months of therapy. But now, a new brain-controlled 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 fish six years ago.

“He was slurring, he couldn’t move his hand. And, so I, I just told him, I said, ‘You’re having a stroke,” Pattie Forrest, Mark’s wife, told Ivanhoe.

“By the time I got to the hospital, my whole right side was dead,” said Mark.

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,’” Mark Forrest voiced.

That something was this. The first FDA cleared brain computer interface for chronic stroke survivors.

“This is the robotic exoskeleton portion of the Ipsyhand,” Eric Leuthardt, MD, a neurosurgeon at Washington University School of Medicine & Neurolutions Inc., shared.

Leuthardt created the exoskeleton that uses electrical signals in the brain to control hand movement.

Dr. Leuthardt explained, “Their brain essentially relearns how to use a different part of the brain to affect control of that paralyzed hand.”

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.

“It’s used to really retrain your brain to rewire your brain. So, you don’t need this system in the long run,” Dr. Leuthardt noted.

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.

“It’s just being out there is what I truly love. And I’m thankful I can do it,” Mark announced

Anyone who has suffered a stroke who has good cognitive function would be a candidate for this device. Neuroloutions hopes to have it available to everyone next year and believes it will be covered by Medicare.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.

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