Health Alert: Electrical impulses for stroke rehabilitation

NATIONAL - Rehabilitation after a stroke is painful and repetitive. But now there's a new device that helps make that repetition more effective using an electrical pulse.

As a firefighter, Dennis August spent years learning how to rescue people from danger. Dennis August remembers the training, "emergency medical technician, water rescue technician, ice rescue technician - never ends, to be proficient at anything you have to do a lot of training."

Now Dennis is putting that same discipline into action, re-training his muscles after a stroke. He's using the Ness H-200. Its low electrical impulses help restore muscle-to-brain communication.

Donna Andrews explains, "It facilitates the muscles to work so that the brain can kind of get re-educated on, what is it supposed to be doing? What is the hand supposed to be doing? How is it supposed to be working?"

Strategically placed electrodes stimulate muscles. Occupational therapist Donna Andrews says, "It provides the stimulation through these pads. There's an upper one which is for the extensors of the hand, which help open the fingers up. And then there's a pad for the lower underneath part of your forearm which helps bring the fingers down."

The device helps Dennis re-learn motions used in everyday life. The low-level stimulation helps patients with varying degrees of impairment. Andrews says, "You can work with someone who has absolutely no movement at all and attempt to use it, or you can work with someone who has got a lot of what we call spasticity, or tone, to help kind of control that and manage it."

For Dennis, the Ness device is part of his daily training to rescue the life he had before a stroke.

The Bioness company also has a leg device to help patients with 'foot drop.' That's a partial paralysis of the lower leg. The device re-trains muscles, restoring a more normal walking gait.

Posted by Chantelle Janelle