Encore Path Inc of Baltimore has signed an exclusive worldwide license agreement for a device technology invented jointly by researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland Baltimore County that helps stroke patients retrain their bodies to walk.

The new device is called the Step Trainer for Enhanced Performance using Rhythmic Cues, or STEP-R. It was co-invented by the Jill Whitall, PhD, professor, and Sandra McCombe-Waller, MS, PhD, PT, NCS, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Muniswamappa Anjanappa, PhD, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UMBC.

The device is designed to help stroke patients redevelop their natural gait. Following a stroke, patients will often increase the frequency of their steps without increasing the length of their stride. STEP-R will use auditory cues to retrain the neuromuscular pathway much like EncorePath’s first stroke device, Tailwind, does to improve arm function and range of motion, according to the researchers. The device will allow a physical therapist to more accurately diagnose and customize a therapy regimen, they say. Versions for in-home use may be developed in the future.

In discussing her decision to license the new technology, Kris Appel, founder and president of Encore Path, said "Tailwind has been very well received and the technology is sound. STEP-R works on the same scientific principles. We are having such a good reaction from stroke survivors for the Tailwind that it makes great sense to license STEP-R."

Development of a prototype of the new device at the School of Medicine is being funded in part by a grant from the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program. Under the terms of the license agreement, UMB is entitled to a license fee, milestone payments, and royalties on sales.

"The ultimate goal of our technology transfer efforts is to translate the tremendous research enterprise at UMB into commercially available therapeutics, diagnostics, and devices that will improve human health," said Jim Hughes, MBA, VP for research and development at UMB, in a statement.

Founded in 2006, Encore Path is a medical device company established to improve the quality of life for stroke survivors. It holds exclusive licenses from UMB to market the Tailwind and STEP-R devices worldwide. Encore Path develops and commercializes technologies, devices, and therapies designed to enhance rehabilitation after stroke safely and affordably.

[Source: University of Maryland]