Image: An EMG feedback device helps stroke patients recover muscle control (Photo courtesy of Zynex).
A novel device helps stroke and spinal cord injury patients regain movement by using the brain's ability to rewire itself.
The Zynex (Lone Tree, CO, USA) NeuroMove 900 device is designed to detect signals sent by the patient’s brain to a certain muscle group by analysis of electromyography (EMG) readings using two adhesive electrodes. A built-in microprocessor distinguishes when an EMG signal represents regular muscle activity, muscle tone, noise, or a real attempt to move a muscle. When such a real attempt is detected, the unit “rewards” the patient with a few seconds of muscle contraction, with additional visual and sensory feedback serving as an important element in relearning the movement.
NeuroMove can detect attempts even when the trace movements are below visible levels, thus assisting healthy parts of the brain assume lost functionality. NeuroMove also prompts the patient to relax just as often (a significant element in learning to control a muscle group), as better relaxation of a muscle group can sometimes be noticed just ten minutes into a treatment session. The system adjusts automatically to the levels produced by each patient and to each new session, making it effective both for patients with spasticity/muscle tone, as well as for patients with flaccid extremities.
“Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States and the NeuroMove 900 is uniquely positioned to enhance the patient's recovery,” said Thomas Sandgaard, founder and CEO of Zynex. “Under a newly designed marketing strategy, healthcare practitioners will be able to use the NeuroMove 900 on patients clinically and then easily transition the patient's rehabilitation to the patient's home once discharged from the clinic.”
EMG is an electrodiagnostic technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles when electrically or neurologically activated in order to detect neurological and neuromuscular problems. It is used diagnostically to study biomechanics, motor control, neuromuscular physiology, movement disorders, postural control, and for physical therapy.