Taking Steps after a Stroke

May 15, 2009 6:58:27 PM PDT
Surviving a stroke is only the beginning of the battle. Walking again is at the top of the wish list for those trying to recover. More than half of stroke survivors have difficulty walking on their own or can't get around at all. For some, electricity may speed up the recovery process.At one time, doctors told Debi Sjoberg she would never walk again. At 39 she suffered a stroke that paralyzed her left side.

"When I woke up, I knew immediately something was wrong because I could feel my face was drooping," Sjoberg told Ivanhoe.

For years, she struggled with cumbersome braces that restricted her movement.

"I was very frightened," Sjoberg said. "I'd always had my husband next to me holding me because I felt like I was always going to fall over."

That fear changed when she started using WalkAide.

The electronic device worn just below the knee sends an electrical pulse to the nerves, allowing the muscles to contract and lift her foot.

"Without the WalkAide, her foot would turn in and her ankle would push to the side, and her toe would drag," physical therapist Gina Marino, of Hope Physical Therapy in Hope, R.I., told Ivanhoe.

A computer program sets the gait for each person. The more Sjoberg uses it, the more her muscles respond.

"The first time she put the WalkAide on, her gait looked as normal as I can remember in all the years that I've worked with her," Marino said. "It took away a lot of the patterns that she had gotten into."

"You don't realize how much it takes away from your life, and because of this little thing, it's given me my life back," Sjoberg said.

Daily chores no longer seem impossible, giving Sjoberg the confidence and courage to carry on after the stroke.

WalkAide is covered by insurance about 40 percent of the time and costs about $4,500. It's used for people with brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions. People with pacemakers or those who suffer from seizures shouldn't use it.

Innovative Neurotronics, Inc.
(888) 884-6462

Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
Breaking News E-Mail Alerts | Text Message Alerts
More News on abc30.com
Local | California/State | National/World | Weather | Entertainment | Business | Politics | Sports | Consumer Watch | Mr. Food |