"A category of medical therapy termed neuro-stimulation has become one of the fastest growing areas of the medical device industry."
Each year, more than 200,000 people will suffer a stroke, and millions more suffer from multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions that affect the nervous system.
The effect of these conditions on the nervous system is profound and often leaves individuals struggling with physical disability and deficits of the hand, arm, and/or leg. These limitations are particularly frustrating because they take away a person's independence. Not only are patients unable to do the things they love, such as sports and travel; but, in some cases, they are unable to simply complete the daily tasks of life, such as getting dressed in the morning, brushing their teeth, and cooking for themselves.
To encourage mobility, people suffering from disability related to a neurological disorder or traumatic event are typically prescribed a course of physical and/or occupational therapy. However, this therapy is often brief or limited to a few visits. Thus, the therapy is often focused on teaching the patient how to live with or accommodate their limitations, rather than regaining function in the weakened limb. For many years, therapists believed that patients reached a "plateau" in their recovery from neurological catastrophe, a point at which they would no longer be able to regain significant function.
However, over the past decade researchers have learned more about how the nervous system and brain function in the aftermath of a neurological condition or event. A category of medical therapy termed neuro-stimulation has become one of the fastest growing areas of the medical device industry. Used to treat a number of disorders including chronic pain, Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, paralysis, epilepsy, obesity, and depression, neuro-stimulation is a therapeutic, low level of electrical stimulation also used to treat medical conditions affecting different parts of the central nervous system.
Now, a recent advance in the field of neuro-stimulation offers hope for those suffering from mobility issues following certain neurological conditions or events. Bioness Inc. (Valencia, California) has developed two devices that leverage a concept called Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) to improve mobility in patients over time. Bioness's devices are externally-worn neuro-stimulation systems designed to restore function and provide recovery in individuals who suffer post-stroke paralysis, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), or multiple sclerosis (MS). The NESS L300 Foot Drop System is designed to target the roughly 2.5 million individuals in the United States who suffer from foot drop; the NESS H200 Hand Rehabilitation System is designed for the roughly 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. who suffer from upper extremity hemi-paralysis often caused by stroke, TBI, and SCI. The components of these neuromodulation devices are described and demonstrated at www.bioness.com