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New Device for Stroke Patients Improves Walking

Among stroke survivors, one common difficulty is foot drop, a partial leg paralysis that prevents the foot from lifting -- causing instability and difficulty walking . Now, a new high-tech rehabilitation device -- available in the New York Cityarea only at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center -- helps these patients regain the ability to walk more naturally and improve mobility.

The unique lightweight device, called the NESS L300 neuro-rehabilitation system -- which recently received FDA clearance and has been offered to patients at Weill Cornell beginning this year -- is worn on the lower-leg and foot in place of a traditional foot brace. Sensors detect whether the patient's foot is in the air or on the ground, and electrodes transmit painless electrical stimulation to the peroneal nerve to activate the calf muscle and correct their gait.

Offered on an inpatient and outpatient basis, the NESS L300 has been shown to improve walking coordination, speed and blood flow, and decrease the effort required in walking while wearing the device. Generally, electrical stimulation has been demonstrated to improve motor control; future research will determine the specific long-term benefits of the NESS L300.

"Our patients have been very enthusiastic about this remarkable device, which, together with a comprehensive rehabilitation regimen, has helped them retrain and regain control of their bodies and achieve greater mobility and independence," says Dr. Michael O'Dell, acting chief of rehabilitation medicine and medical director of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Medicine Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. He is professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

The device, manufactured by Bioness Inc. of Santa Clarita, Calif., may also be able to help patients with traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weil l Cornell also offers a similar device for rehabilitation of arm movement: the NESS H200. Additional devices used in stroke rehabilitation at the Hospital include the NeuroCom SMART Balance Master for objective evaluation and balance training, and the LiteGait partial-body-weight-supported treadmill.

More than 700,000 people suffer a stroke every year. Two-thirds of stroke patients require intensive rehabilitation.


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