From Jurassic Park to Veteran therapy

Using robotic technology to treat tetraplegic Veterans



Randy Simmons spent more than 10 years as a robotic engineer in the motion picture industry, working on films such as blockbusters Jurassic Park and Mimic. He now focuses mainly on devices and robotics for the rehabilitation in the medical industry as the chief scientist and designer of the Hand Glove.

The Functional Electrical Stimulation Hand Glove 200 is a prototypic device that incorporates both active functional electrical stimulation and passive robotic bio-mechanic movement. This combination is the first of its kind in hand and upper extremity rehabilitation. The Hand Glove actually allows the user to complete a full length therapy session in spite of early muscle exhaustion. This may provide more rapid gain in strength and functional muscle mass.

Physicians, occupational therapists and nurses at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center are conducting trials on the FES Hand Glove 200 with Veterans with spinal cord injury C4-6 and documented impairments of the upper extremity.

Upon successful screening, Veterans between the ages of 18 and 85 underwent an initial assessment with a fitting of the glove. The treatment protocol included a one-hour therapy session consisting of 30 minutes of passive range of motion followed by 30 minutes of functional electrical stimulation for a total of 24 sessions over six weeks.

Trial data suggests the device improved hand function, particularly fine motor skills, dexterity and speed, decreased swelling, improved range of motion and hand strength. This resulted in improved quality of life for patients with tetraplegia.

VA is now conducting a second trial on the use of the FES Hand Glove 200 in order to address the benefit of the robotic unit on spinal cord injury and polytrauma patients. This second trial will focus on the benefits on the device. So far, 17 Veterans have completed that trial.

The VA research team includes: Steven Scott, DO, Wanda VanHarlinger, OTR/L, ABDA, CLT,Yasmin Gonzalez, OTR/L, ABDA, CLT, John Merritt, MD, , Kevin White, MD, Jill Massengale, MS, ARNP-C, Rafael Mascarinas, MD.  

 

Author

Wanda VanHarlinger

Comments

  1. Warren peterson    

    I am a native American veteran. I am required by Indian Health service to apply for services. June 2014 Obama made natives exempt from applying for health care. The threshold for a family of seven income is $21,000 a year and I am over this guideline which makes me have to pay copays. Free health care? The government will not accept government to government payments…..go figure. They will pay for me to go IHS but the VA will not accept money from IHS. The VA has so many loopholes for not providing healthcare and you are already paying for these doctors why not make health care free for all veterans. The US government wonders why there are so many homeless veterans and committing suicide. The government in Washington DC in majority has not been in service but ready to put us in harms way and doesn’t want to pay for any services.

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