Piedmont Augusta Rehab assists in recovery for stroke patient

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 2:15 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Earlier this year in March, Piedmont Augusta’s Occupational and Physical Therapy Services had the opportunity to help a patient recover from a stroke with an unusual device.

Michael Johnson, of Harlem, had a stroke in 2016 at the age of 32. Over the next six years, Johnson made a remarkable recovery through his hard work and belief.

“I couldn’t really do anything with my arm. I couldn’t curl it up. I couldn’t do anything. I would have to sit there and hope. From there, I’ve been fighting for my independence and my life,” said Johnson.

As a member of multiple support groups, Johnson was looking through a stroke-related magazine when he came across something unique: a robotic therapy arm designed to help stroke patients recover the use of their limbs.

“In three months, I can curl my arm up. I can straighten it. I can close my fingers. I can open my fingers. I can do house chores,” he said.

The MyoPro system is a wearable powered brace that helps restore function to an arm or hand weakened or paralyzed by stroke or other neuromuscular diseases or injuries.

The Myomo worked closely with Johnson in getting him the MyoPro device. They facilitated the prescription, got it cleared through insurance, flew to Johnson for fittings, and provided occupational therapists to help with recovery.

Myomo reached out to Piedmont Augusta, Johnson’s preferred provider, to invite them to learn how to use the brace.

Bailey Parker, Johnson’s occupational therapist at Piedmont Augusta, said the team was excited when Myomo approached them. Parker said it was a lot of intensive training through videos, meetings, and hands-on work with Johnson.

“He came in, and we went through an initial evaluation to try and see what he was able to do on his own arm without the prosthetic. Then, assist with prosthetic what steps we could take to regain his independence,” she said.

It is currently the only marketed device that can sense a patient’s EMG signals through non-invasive sensors.

“It could come from any kind of spinal cord injury. There are other diagnoses that can benefit from the prosthetic,” said Parker.

Johnson started the process by contacting the brace’s manufacturer, Myomo, to see if it was for him.

“It’s really simple and streamlined,” says Johnson. “You just go to the Myomo website, fill out the information, and then it’s really hands-on.”

The brace must be prescribed by a physician.

Since using the device, Johnson and his therapists have seen a remarkable improvement in Johnson’s functional mobility.

Johnson says he’s made more progress in three months of this therapy than in the six years since his stroke. He’s hopeful this will help him get back to doing the things he loves, like cooking.

“It’s been a journey, but I’m never going to give up,” he said.

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