Giving Survivors A Helping Hand
Reported April 2011
CLEVELAND (Ivanhoe Newswire) --By the time this report is over, three people will have had a stroke in the U.S. Every three minutes someone dies of one, and for the survivors it’s a long road to recovery--filled with therapy. Now, stroke victims are getting a helping hand to help them recover-- at home.
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“I lost everything. I lost my grammar. My vowels, my words and I lost my right arm and my leg,” Bill Forester, Stroke survivor told Ivanhoe.
Two years ago, Forester suffered a stroke and every day since he’s had one thing on his mind.
“I want to recover fully. You know, I have to do it,” Forester said.
A college teacher, realtor, director at a state agency and charity board member, Forester will not settle for anything less.
Although walking came faster, his right hand is still giving him trouble. That’s why he’s part of clinical trial using a device called hand mentor. It’s part video game, part physical therapist and it’s all done at home.
“It was hard in the beginning,” Forester recalled.
Biomedical engineers and physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic are among the first to use this repetitive motion hand therapy device.
“We think there’s a lot of hope left for those patients after six months post stroke to regain function.” Jay Alberts, Ph.D.,
Biomedical engineer at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio explained.
Patients log on at home and they can choose from five different video games that their therapist has programmed for their strength level. They choose when and how long to workout, but they do know someone will be watching.
“I’ll shoot him an email, or text him and say, hey I’m checking in on you…and he’ll text back ‘busted!’” Susan Linder, Physical therapist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio said.
Patients are asked to play these games two hours a day, five days a week. The device senses the level of resistance the upward motion is the hardest for most stroke survivors to regain.
“The more they do, the better off they are,” Linder said.
Along with setting goals, the device provides performance reinforcement and clinician reports that can be seen instantly, and could help people even years after their stroke.
“We’re looking at patients who have exhausted insurance means or has difficulty to access to care,” Dr. Alberts added.
After two weeks on the machine, Forester could feel his fingers, after four weeks, he had use of his hand and he’s not stopping. He works out every day and he’s already run several half marathons - even coming in second in his age group.
“Everything is coming back, my speech and my arm-everything. I have to work it. Because it’s my life,” Forester concluded.
And no doubt, he will. This device shouldn’t replace a real person, but give stroke patients a more engaging way to workout at home. Traditional therapy includes squeezing a ball or playing with putty.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
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