Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Bioness Foot Drop System

Oct. 2, 2013

If you or someone you know has recently had a stroke, there are some new treatment options when it comes to physical therapy.
In this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise report, a device called the Bioness Foot Drop System is helping stroke patients get back on their feet.

After having a stroke, a patient can often change mentally and physically. They may notice that they're not able to use their arms and legs in the same was as they were before the stroke.

"It was challenging because your body is doing things that you're not accustomed to doing and it's tough. It's not working on its own and your mind is doing one thing and your body is doing another thing and you try to get them to mesh to do the same things," said Alvin Clark, Patient, Martha Jefferson Hospital.

Now an electric stimulation device called Bioness is being used at Martha Jefferson Hospital during physical therapy sessions.
The Foot Drop System is helping patients like Alvin Clark who have lost some feeling and who are having difficulty using their leg muscles.

"There's a pad that they wear that's inside their cuff and that sends stimulation to the nerve to the side of the leg or the front of the leg and that will simultaneously help them pick up their foot," said Tamara Helton, Physical Therapist, Martha Jefferson Hospital.

"It feels as if you kind of feel an electric pulse going through your leg. It's a stimulation. It kind of wakes up the muscles," said Clark.

Bioness is much different from alternative therapy tools.

"Braces have been used in the past and those pretty much keep the foot rigid and still. This actually uses the muscles in the legs and over time it can help the muscle get a little bit stronger," said Helton.

Clark suffered a stroke in December of 2012 and has been recovering and doing physical therapy ever since. He says he can even feel the difference in his leg several hours after his appointment.

"When you're at home later that day, you can feel your muscles feel kind of feel sore. To me, that's a great connection point because that's awakened because during your stroke process you don't feel your muscles," said Clark.

"I think patients really love it because it helps them be more independent. They can feel their leg and it's satisfying for people and we're excited to have it here so that we can at least give them that while they're in therapy.

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