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Health: New Hope Locally For Patients With Paralysis

stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There is new hope for patients who struggle with paralysis from strokes or accidents, and it’s a first in Philadelphia. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl shows you a new bionic arm.

Forty-two-year-old Robert Ward is regaining some movement in his arm with help from a new kind of therapy at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital.

“I think technology is great. It’s actually allowing me to start getting a lot more movement quicker in to my right arm,” said Robert. He was partially paralyzed in an accident on an all-terrain vehicle. The marathon runner was left in a wheelchair, with very limited ability to move his legs or arms

“There are still days that you go through where you are very down, and you think about the things you’re missing and things you still can’t do for yourself,” said Robert.

But he’s getting closer and closer to being able to do simple things for himself, like brushing his hair, with help from a high tech brace called the Myomo mPower. Myomo is short for “My Own Motion.”

“The sensors are on his muscles,” explained Paula Bonsall, a therapist at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. She says Myomo sensors, placed on the bicep and tricep, detect faint muscle signals from the brain. The device then moves, helping the muscles work.

“It can sense when the patient wants to move the muscle, when the muscle is slightly contracting, and it will assist the patient to move this arm,” said Paula.

And Myomo can help create new neural pathways in the brain that may eventually help patients move on their own.

“It just allows the patients to have more control of their life,” said Dr. Guy Fried, the chief medical officer at Magee. He says Robert has an incomplete spinal cord injury and is expected to regain some movement, though it is unclear at this time how much.

“To be able to watch the function of my body come back, even though it’s still limited, it’s been very encouraging,” said Robert.

Right now, the device is only used on the arm, but doctors hope that someday, it could also help patients regain movement in their legs. It’s sometimes covered by insurance, and there’s an at-home version that costs $7,500.

For more on Myomo, visit: www.myomo.com

For more on Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, visit: www.mageerehab.org/believe.php

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