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FDA Approve S Robotic Device to Help Stroke Patients

in October 2006, her arm was positioned in the metal and plastic brace and electrodes were placed on her biceps and triceps to sense electrical activity. Initially, her arm was locked at a 90-degree angle; when she tried to extend it, the brace stepped in and her arm stretched out in front of her.

At first it felt weird and foreign, she said. You have all these little muscles that are suddenly awake for the first time in 20 years. But as I went back and practiced three times a week for about six weeks it felt like my arm was doing the straightening and bending itself, just with some assistance.

It was extremely encouraging, she added, noting that with the brace on she was able to practice tasks like folding towels, opening drawers and lifting a yoga mat from a chair to a table. One time, she was delivering mail at work (she is an administrative assistant at a medical software company) and the envelopes started to slip. And my left arm shot out to catch them, she recalled. That hadnt happened in years.

A small study of the Myomo device and associated treatment, conducted with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Massachusetts and published in April in The American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, found that patients who exercised with the arm brace for 18 hours over about six weeks experienced a 23 percent improvement in upper extremity function.

Further clinical testing with stroke patients is under way at the Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital in Massachusetts. And a study involving patients with spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, including veterans of the Iraq war, is in the planning stages at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Fla.

It is not yet clear whether movement therapy using a surface-controlled device like the Myomo brace will benefit these patients, said Dr. Irene M. Estores, a specialist in spinal cord injury and in physical medicine and rehabilitation at tha
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