Scientists in New York City are using a unique electrical stimulation device that restores mobility in patients with foot drop, a partial leg paralysis that often afflicts stroke survivors.
Presently, the 'NESS L300' neuro-rehabilitation system is available only at the Cornell University Weill Medical Center, one of the two medical centres that compose NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
The device is worn on the lower-leg and foot in place of a traditional foot brace. It contains sensors that detect whether the patient's foot is in the air or on the ground, and electrodes that transmit painless electrical stimulation to the peroneal nerve to activate the calf muscle and correct their gait.
Doctors at the medical centre have also shown that the device improves walking co-ordination, speed and blood flow, and decreases the effort required in walking.
"Our patients have been very enthusiastic about this remarkable device, which, together with a comprehensive rehabilitation regimen, has helped them retrain and regain control of their bodies and achieve greater mobility and independence," says Dr. Michael O'Dell, acting chief of rehabilitation medicine and medical director of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Medicine Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell.
Manufactured by California based Bioness Inc., the device may also be beneficial in treating patients with traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy.
Boffins, however, agree that further research is required to determine the specific long-term benefits of the NESS L300.