Every year, about 795,000 people suffer a stroke, and nearly 3/4 of these attacks occur with people older than 65. The staff at the Illinois Neurological Institute is using electrical pulses to stimulate paralyzed muscles, a traditional therapy. What’s new is the method.
One minute, retired farmer Scott Tippey of Lewistown, Ill., was working out in the yard with his wife, picking up fallen tree limbs. The next minute, he felt dizzy and Karen Tippey was rushing him to the emergency room. She recognized the signs of a stroke.
“I didn’t even call 911. I knew I could get him there faster,” said Karen Tippey.
Less than a week later, Scott Tippey was still in the hospital. However, he was on the road to recovery and taking advantage of a new hand rehabilitation system, which was used to help re-educate the muscles in his left arm and hand.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., but the first leading cause of serious long-term disability. Every year, about 795,000 people suffer a stroke, and nearly 3/4 of these attacks occur with people older than 65.
Tippey’s stroke affected his left side. He can speak, but he currently can’t use his left arm or leg.
As part of his therapy, the staff at the Illinois Neurological Institute is using electrical pulses to stimulate his paralyzed muscles, a traditional therapy. What’s new is the method.
Previously, INI occupational therapist Gabe Stickling would spend 30 or 40 minutes attaching wires and electrodes to a patient before starting therapy. The cumbersome process not only tired out patients, who’ve just suffered a stroke, but it also cut into the time Stickling had to work with additional patients.
Now, with a new slip-on system, it takes just a minute or two before therapy can start.
“We use it as part of treatment, but it can also be something the patient can continue with,” said Stickling.
Depending on the patient’s insurance, the NESS H200 hand rehabilitation system from Bioness Inc. is portable and easy enough to use that a patient could take it home with them.
“It gives us a new tool to extend our work with our patients,” said Dr. Jeffery Stedwell, INI medical director of rehabilitation services. “A lot of our patients have some degree of recovery spontaneously. Our hope is this will further augment that and promote them to keep working. If they work with this and see concrete results, then it keeps the patient motivated to keep working.”
After just one 45-minute session, Tippey saw increased flexibility in three fingers on his left hand.
“It’s different,” says Tippey of the sensation. “It made my fingers straighten out. Surprised me.”
His wife notes that the effects lasted the rest of the day.
“The rehab center here, it’s so wonderful, I can’t say enough good about it,” said Karen Tippey. “In three weeks they tell me, we could be going home and leading a normal life. Maybe we can go back to our game plan of traveling. I want my best friend back.”
The NESS H200 has five built-in electrodes that send low-level electrical pulses to muscles in the forearm and hand.
“It’s measured in milliamps — it’s very low,” said Stickling. “This runs off an internal battery. Others run off a 9-volt battery. We just want to give enough to get the muscle to contract.”
Stickling adds that results “can vary greatly. A couple patients, one or two, after one session had more strength in their hand.”
For more information on the Illinois Neurological Institute or the NESS H200 hand rehabilitation system, call 624-4000 or visit www.ini.org. Jennifer Davis can be reached at 686-3249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.