Monday, April 7, 2008
Medical Reports: Walk Again
New hope tonight for people who suffer a stroke. There's now a new device to help victims Walk Again. Seven's Richard Lemus shows us.
WSVN -- It's still hard for Debbie Henry to understand the life-altering stroke that left her hospitalized.
Debbie Henry: "I'm only 49 years old, and this isn't supposed to happen to me."
And it's not supposed to be this hard to walk either.
Debbie Henry: "My knee is weak, but I have what they call 'foot drop.'"
Foot drop is a condition where muscle weakness makes raising the ankle and toes difficult. Small steps are a struggle that leave Debbie dizzy and breathless.
But a new electrical stimulation device is helping her walk better. Electrodes are attached to Debbie's leg, then this leg piece is wrapped around. A wireless handheld device sends mini shocks through the leg muscles.
Debbie Henry: "Little tingles, I guess, is the best way to describe it."
These shocks stimulate muscle memory.
Tracy Saponara: "It stimulates the nerve and the muscle that allows a patient's toes to lift up to help with walking."
The result, it improves a person's mobility, allowing them to walk faster and better.
The downside, initially, the device takes a while to set up for each individual and is expensive if you buy it on your own, about $6,000, but therapists say you can't argue with the results.
Tracy Saponara: "It helps to bring the muscle activity back a few days faster."
Debbie doesn't think about the cost.
Debbie Henry: "I have hope because I know I can walk. I know that one day I'm going to be able to walk."
And, for Debbie, hope is priceless.
Richard Lemus: "Doctors warn that people with certain types of pacemakers or implants, should not use this device."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
University of Maryland Medical Center