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 can help these patients regain the ability to walk more naturally and improve mobility.
The unique lightweight device, called the Ness L300 neuro-rehabilitation system, 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.
The device 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.
'Our patients have been very enthusiastic about this device, which, together with a comprehensive rehabilitation regimen, has helped them retrain and regain control of their bodies and achieve greater mobility and independence,' said Dr. Michael O'Dell, acting chief of rehabilitation medicine and medical director of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Medicine Center at the Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.
The device, manufactured by Bioness of Santa Clarita, CA, may also be able to help patients with traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.