Specialized glove helping stroke patients regain mobility

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ByMargot Kim via KFSN logo
Saturday, May 2, 2015
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About 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- About 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year. It is the fifth leading cause of death and is the leading cause of serious disability. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are testing an innovative system that retrains the uninjured side of the brain, helping stroke patients regain their mobility.

Richard Arnold, 64, is a retired Missouri paramedic. Five years ago, he suffered a sudden stroke.

Richard told ABC30, "I went and started leaning my head to one side. I don't remember that. But I do remember not feeling well, and things were getting bad quickly."

Kim Arnold, Richard's wife said, "They told me that he would never walk or talk."

Richard proved the doctors wrong, but his right side was weak and his hand remained paralyzed.

Eric Leuthardt, MD, Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine is an expert in the field of brain computer interface. They are devices that let the brain communicate with computers; restoring signals that have been cut due to stroke or injury.

Dr. Leuthardt told ABC30, "Basically, if they've been injured on the right, we're taking signals from the left."

Dr. Leuthardt and his colleagues are testing a stroke glove called an IPSI Hand. Patients wear a cap with sensors, connected to a computer. Then they think about moving their fingers.

"With continued usage, their brain is relearning how to control that hand," Dr. Leuthardt explained.

Richard does the therapy seven days a week. The Arnolds say it's making a huge difference.

Kim said, "He would have to lie down and get his pants on, and sometimes in the beginning it would take 20 minutes. Now it's something that he just does like every day people do."

Richard told ABC30, "The best thing that I wanted to be able to do is hold my wife's hand."

"The strength's coming back, and he's my Superman," exclaimed Kim.

Dr. Leuthardt has started a spinoff company, Neurolutions, to manufacture the equipment. To avoid a conflict of interest, another Washington University researcher is leading the testing phase of the clinical trial which is expected to be completed within the next six months. They are working with the FDA at this time.

For more information on this report, please contact:Dana GlassWashington University in St. Louisglassd@wudosis.wustl.edu