St. Anthony’s Medical Center consistently has been among the first in the region to introduce advanced technologies to enhance acute rehabilitative care and get patients on the road to recovery faster. This commitment to ongoing excellence was among the reasons that the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) honored our Acute Rehabilitation Unit with “exemplary status.”
The Bioness® L300 Foot Drop System is a computerized system that stimulates, re-educates and strengthens weakened leg muscles. By using a software program that times and sends tiny jolts of electrical stimulation to a sensor in a patient’s shoe and to a leg cuff that is strapped below the knee, a therapist can trigger a patient’s foot to rise at the right time as he or she moves forward. With this type of therapy, patients learn to walk more safely and with a proper gait. The device is used with patients who have foot drop because of a stroke, traumatic brain injury, incomplete spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.
The Bioness® H200 system works on upper extremities in much the same way as the L300 system is used for lower extremities. The H200 stimulates muscles in the hand and wrist through the use of surface electrodes that rest over a patient’s hand and forearm. A microprocessor is used to program the device with a series of exercises customized for each patient. Clinical trials support the effectiveness of the H200 in returning hand and arm function to patients following a stroke or brain injury, as well as for select patients whose injuries are years old.
Electrical stimulation also is used to help patients with dysphagia. These patients often are unable — or find it difficult — to swallow foods or liquids. Speech therapists place small electrodes on the patient’s throat to stimulate the swallowing muscles. Over time, the therapy strengthens and re-educates the throat muscles, enabling patients to swallow again.
For patients unable to support their own weight with their lower extremities (e.g., patients with spinal cord or head injuries, dementia or stroke), a supportive gait-therapy device called LiteGait® uses a harness to control posture and balance while also supporting the patient, either on the floor or over a treadmill. Therapists gradually reduce support until patients can bear weight on their own. Studies show body weight-supported treadmill training can improve outcomes and sends patients home sooner.