Among stroke survivors and patients suffering from other neurological or muscular disorders, one common difficulty they face is foot drop, a partial leg paralysis that prevents the foot from lifting and causes instability and difficulty walking. Rush University Medical Center, Chicago is offering a NESS L300, a high-tech device to help brain-injury patients regain the ability to walk more naturally and improve mobility.

The lightweight, neuro-rehabilitation system is a noninvasive, wireless leg brace worn on the lower leg. Small sensors placed by the heel of the foot detect whether the patient’s foot is in the air or on the ground.

Electrodes transmit painless electronic stimulation to the peroneal nerve to activate the calf muscle and correct a patient’s gait. When weight is taken off the patient’s foot, the brace sends a signal to contract muscles inside the calf allowing the foot to swing forward.

Foot drop is a condition where the muscles in the foot are too weak to properly lift the foot, heel, and toes while walking, says James Young, MD, medical director of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Rush. He says it is often present in patients who have suffered a stroke, traumatic brain injury, incomplete spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy.

The device has proved beneficial not only in patient who recently suffered traumatic brain injuries, but also patients who have suffered from several years of immobility or from strokes several years ago.

"The device has helped our patients retrain and regain control of their bodies and achieve greater mobility and independence," he says. "We have seen vast improvements in patients such as walking coordination, speed, and blood flow, and a decrease in the effort required during walking while wearing the device."

The device is offered on an inpatient and outpatient basis at Rush. The medical center also offers a similar device for rehabilitation of arm movement called the NESS H200, a small wireless, portable device that comprises of a hand a forearm brace with five surface electrodes that stimulate muscles to initiate grasp, release and thumb movements.

[Source: Medical News Today]