Robotic technology helping stroke patients recover

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Robotic technology is reshaping therapy for stroke patients Saint Luke's Hospital on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., with the new device called ArmeoSpring. It combines robotics and video games to help patients rebuild their brains.  Patients like Scott Norman of Johnson County, Kan., are having great success restoring movement after being paralyzed.

Scott had a stroke last October. He said doctors thought he would not regain the use of his left arm and that it could be a very long time before he would walk again.

"I was in a wheelchair and I couldn't move my arm," he said. "Now, I would say I have 60 percent movement in my left arm and I'm walking again praise the Lord.”

Saint Luke's has the only ArmeoSpring in the greater Kansas City area.  Dr. Brad Steinle, medical director of the neuro-rehabilitation program, believes the device will revolutionize rehabilitation and therapy for stroke patients.

"This technology lets patients achieve more repetitions correctly," Dr. Steinle said.

Patients sit in a chair where their arm is placed in the robotic arm.  The robotic arm supports the patient's arm but the patient focuses to make their arm and hand move. There is a joystick the patient can grasp; as they squeeze, push and pull the joystick and move their arm, they are playing a video game.  So the patient is focused on picking up fruit and moving it into a basket or shooting silly birds.  As their expertise improves, the therapist can adjust the device to increase the difficulty of movement.

"The stroke patient has damaged brain cells.  As they play the video game, they are activating healthy brain cells to take over the function of the damaged brain cells," Dr. Steinle said.

Scott Norman has already returned to coaching youth baseball.  He hope to continue improving with robotic technology and pitch to his young players this summer.

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