HealthWatch: Stroke Patients Rehab With Robotics
NEW YORK (CBS 2) – Krista Stanton had to put her career as an FBI agent on hold three years ago when a stroke paralyzed the left side of her body.
Now she’s still facing major challenging, including things like opening a door.
“I’d love to be able to tie my shoes,” Stanton said.
Stanton may be able to do that soon enough. Doctors are hoping robotics can help stroke survivors get back some of what they’ve lost.
Stanton has been rehabbing her left hand with the help of a robotic device that has levers attached to her fingers. When she moves the levers to play a video game, the lever helps her complete the motion.
Doctors believe repeating movements can retrain the brain to send clearer signals to the arm, thus strengthening Stanton’s left side.
“And helps the person gradually re-establish control over the limb” Dr. Joel Stein of the New York Presbyterian Hospital said.
Researchers at the hospital are working with the devices that not only are helping stroke victims who’ve lost control of their arms and hands, but they’re also helping patients retrain their legs.
Ellen Donaldson suffered a stroke in 2007 and she’s still walking on a cane, but the robot has helped her motion and her ability to walk.
“I came home excited, told my husband. I was able to walk up the steps normally,” Donaldson said.
Stanton has also used the robot for her legs and has seen the progress.
“Ultimately, I’m hoping to get everything back and get back to work,” Stanton said.
If testing is successful, doctors hope robotics will soon be widely available to help stroke patients gain more control of their bodies.
Doctors say there is a large need for this type of therapy. About half of all stroke survivors lose some ability to move their arms and legs.