Helping Stroke Patients Walk Again

July 16, 2008 8:55:09 AM PDT
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), foot drop is a condition that makes raising the ankle and toes difficult because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The condition may result from muscular problems due to neurodegenerative disorders of the brain like cerebral palsy, stroke, or multiple sclerosis. It could also be caused by motor neuron disorders like polio, nerve damage or various other disorders. Foot drop is most commonly treated by light-weight leg braces and shoe inserts called orthotics, NINDS explains. Exercise therapy to strengthen the muscles may also be performed. Other times, devices like the NESS L300 are used to electrically stimulate the peroneal nerve when the foot falls.

STIMULATION DEVICE: The NESS L300 is designed to treat foot drop. It is distributed by Bioness, Inc., a company in Valencia, Calif., specializing in medical stimulation devices. According to Bioness, Inc., the small, light-weight NESS L300 wraps around the leg, just below the knee and delivers mild stimulation to lift the foot. The device can improve a person's mobility by increasing their speed on flat ground and allowing them to walk more easily up and down stairs and on uneven surfaces. The NESS L300 may eliminate the need to wear an orthosis, a bulky device worn to support the skeletal system. Because of its innovative design and benefit to healthcare, the NESS L300 was awarded the Gold 2007 Medical Design Excellence Award (MDEA).

HOW IT WORKS: The device is comprised of three main parts that "talk" with each other through wireless communication. A gait sensor is attached to a person's shoe to let the leg cuff know whether the heel is in the air or touching the ground. A hand-held remote control allows the wearer to adjust the stimulation level and turn the device on or off.

WHO IT'S FOR: The NESS L300 treats people suffering foot drop as a result of stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, incomplete spinal cord injury, or other neurological disorders that affect the central nervous system.

Bioness, Inc. says people with peripheral nerve disease or injury like Guillain-Barré Syndrome should not use the device. It should also not be worn by people with certain types of pacemakers or implants, people with fractures, dislocations, or cancer in the leg.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Karen Warmkessel
University of Maryland Medical Center
(410) 328-8919
kwarmkesssel@umm.edu


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