StimuHeal, Herzylia, Israel, has invented MyoSpare, an electrical-stimulation device that sits under a cast, stimulating muscles to stay strong, even when a patient is immobilized with broken bones.

"The initial thought behind the system was to enable patients with orthopedic injuries to efficiently use the immobilization period to reduce cast-induced atrophy," says Shlomi Cohen, the company’s CEO, noting that many patients with a bone injury remain inactive, and only begin physical therapy once a cast is removed.

Musculoskeletal injuries, such as damage to bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons are common causes for patient visits to the ER and physician’s office. Now available in Europe and Israel, the device takes advantage of the downtime period when the adult or senior body is inactive and healing from an injury.

The company identified what it deems as the technical and clinical limitations of activating the muscles underneath casts using neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), a well-recognized tool in the American health care system, and developed its alternative, which includes a microprocessor that calculates a cycle for the muscles to rest.

To meet regulatory approvals in Israel and in Europe, the device has been tested on hundreds of patients at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. The company expects FDA approval sometime in the next year.

The company, based near Tel Aviv, includes Prof Meir Libergal, from the Hebrew University Medical School, who is chairman of the Orthopedic Surgery Department at the Hadassah Medical Center; and Doron Zamir, the deputy principal from the School of Physical Therapy affiliated with Tel Aviv University.

Written by Karin Kloosterman