When James Simmons woke up one morning in April 2015, his arms and legs didn’t work. His speech was slurred.
Simmons suffered a stroke, which according to the Centers for Disease Control, kills one American every four minutes.
Simmons was lucky to survive, but things didn’t get easier when he started rehabilitation. “I can see how people can fall in depression after a stroke and give up cause it’s easy to give up. Your body ain’t moving,” said Simmons.
But thanks to a robotic arm, the Hocoma ArmeoSpring, Simmons started to get stronger everyday, and he started having fun again. The ArmeoSpring helps patients regain their motor function after a stroke or any neurological injury, helping with tasks like lifting and placing items in a basket.
“I believed from the very beginning that I was going to make a full recovery and I was not going to be defeated,” he tells KCTV5.
The ergonomic and adjustable robotic arm support is an exoskeleton with integrated springs. It embraces the whole arm, from shoulder to hand, and counterbalances the weight of the patient’s arm, enhancing any residual function and neuromuscular control, and assisting active movement across a large 3D workspace.
The Armeo software contains an extensive library of game-like movement exercises supported by a virtual-reality training environment that is motivating and informative, displaying the functional task along with immediate performance feedback. The motivating and self-initiated exercises include proximal and distal components, specifically related to:
- Grasp and release
- Pro- / supination
- Wrist flexion/extension
- Reach and retrieval function
Clinical evaluation of therapy using ArmeoSpring was conducted at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The randomized controlled trial compared Armeo therapy to conventional, self-directed therapy in 28 moderately to severely impaired chronic stroke patients and the following findings were reported (Housman et al., 2009):
- Better long term outcomes
- Significantly better outcome in motor ability (FuglMeyer) at 6 months follow up
- Increased motivation
- Patients were clearly in favor of Armeo therapy compared to conventional, self-directed therapy. It was described as “more beneficial” and “less boring” than conventional table-top therapy.
To learn more about Simmons’ story, check out the video below.