How do you enhance brain plasticity in patients recovering from stroke, so to improve their motor functions? This is the question that Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Myomo, Inc., the maker of an upcoming mPower 1000 neuro-robotic arm brace, is trying to answer. By utilizing some of today’s technologies, the company is embracing new solutions to make stroke rehabilitation more intuitive, and hopefully more efficacious. Not only does the new device pack some of the newest robotics, according to the latest company announcement, in order to improve motor functions in upper extremities, Myomo will be offering “the Myomo Mobility System, a comprehensive program that helps neurologically impaired people move their arms again, maintain their movement and return to routine daily activities… The system integrates Myomo’s PERL Technique, an evidence-based therapy program; an Android-based Connected Health Platform for tracking progress; and Games For Health for augmented therapy at home. Myomo’s neuro-robotic technology has been clinically proven effective in stroke patients from two days to 21 years post-stroke and is used in both clinical and home settings.” The gaming part of the rehabilitative regiment is based on a program developed by the University of Ulster in the UK, known as myGames, a scientifically engineered virtual environment that gives a patient “a series of realistic scenarios in which the virtual objects respond to the movement of the patient.”
The mPower 1000 is a neuro-robotic arm brace that fits like a sleeve on a person’s arm. The sleeve has sensors that sit on the skin’s surface and detect even a very faint muscle signal. When the brain sends a signal to the muscle, indicating intention to move, the mPower 1000 provides motorized assistance. The device can be worn as a functional aid, used during exercise to maintain gains or applied as a rehabilitation device that re-teaches arm movement to the brain.”What I found most intriguing when I first saw the Myomo in action was that it senses the patients’ intent to move and then augments that movement as opposed to having an outside stimulus cause the muscle to contract,” said Rose Ann Weinstein, founder of Able Place (www.able-place.com), a clinic for physical therapy in Los Angeles. “The Myomo device provides direct feedback to the user reinforcing successful movement strategies. That reinforcement is the key to improving motor function in an affected upper extremity.”
The mPower 1000 is based on technology developed at MIT, and is lightweight and portable. It has on-board controls for easy use and built-in Bluetooth capability. The mPower 1000 is cleared by the FDA for use in the home and in clinics. It is intended to increase arm movement affected by neuro-logical conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury (SCI), multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy (CP), muscular dystrophy (MD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The new device will be publicly demonstrated for the first time in April at Alexian Brothers in Chicago and the AOTA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.