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Youâ€™ve heard of the bionic man. This is the bionic leg.
Catawba Valley Medical Centerâ€™s (CVMC) Rehabilitation Center recently started using state-of-the-art technology as a tool to help stroke patients regain confidence and make up deficits in the use of their lower limbs.
The center started widespread use of the Tibion Bionic Leg this year.
The leg, which attaches to the lower limb of a patient suffering from post-stroke weaknesses or deficits, uses sensory receptors and robotic motors to assist patients as they try to regain a more â€śnormalâ€ť gait.
CVMC Physical Therapist Matt Oâ€™Neill said that people who have experienced a stroke are often impacted on one side of their body. They avoid using the side that has been affected, which can lead to risks such as falls or other orthopedic issues, he said.
Therapists work with post-stroke patients to improve their confidence and functionality of their affected limb â€” a process that the bionic leg heavily assists with.
â€śWeâ€™re excited about the device because itâ€™s another tool in our quest to be the best facility we can be,â€ť said Jeremy Frye, director of Outpatient Rehabilitation Services at CVMC. â€śWe have this new technology that will assist to further help the patient.â€ť
Since starting use of the device, CVMC therapists have seen positive carry-over from inpatient to outpatient therapy in the patients who have used the bionic leg.
The device helps give the patient more confidence, Frye said.
The bionic leg is an â€śintensive-basedâ€ť robot at its core, which uses highly sensitive motors to provide assistance and training to the affected leg of a stroke survivor or patient with another type of lower-limb impairment.
â€śIt can be used on someone with any lower-extremity impairment, but it has been tested in patients primarily dealing with strokes,â€ť Frye said.
Here's how it works:
* A foot sensor inside a patientâ€™s shoe measures the patientâ€™s â€śweight-bearing status,â€ť which is customized by the therapist on a computer screen, to trigger the bionic legâ€™s motors.
* Once the patient demonstrates the proper weight-bearing status, the legâ€™s motor applies the appropriate percentage of robotic support to equalize the strength of the affected leg with that of the unaffected leg.
* This â€śhomeostasisâ€ť enables stroke patients to better perform activities like walking and climbing stairs with reduced assistance.
â€śIt pretty much provides more bio-feedback and sensory input,â€ť Oâ€™Neill said. â€śItâ€™s more of a sensory experience.â€ť
Bobby Lail agrees.
Lail, who suffered weakness in his left leg, has done a handful of treatments with the bionic leg in recent months during his rehab process. Oâ€™Neill said the 45- to 60-minute training sessions have helped Lail tremendously.
Lail walked quickly up a set of stairs Thursday in CVMCâ€™s rehab center off Fairgrove Church Road. He said the device has been great.
â€śItâ€™s definitely helped me â€” especially sitting and standing,â€ť Lail said.
For more information on CVMCâ€™s Center for Rehabilitation, visit catawbavalleymedical.org/center-for-rehabilitation.