Device helps stimulate damaged muscles

July 9, 2010 5:01:37 PM PDT
A woman who survived a traumatic brain injury was left paralyzed on her right side and it causes her to fall. But now, a new device gives her muscles electronic "shocks" to stop that from happening. The device helped her open her paralyzed hand for the first time in 25 years. Ladelle Morton often times turns on her electronic necklace and walks. For most people, this simple procedure means nothing, but to Morton, it is a huge victory.

"I was shot in New York," Morton said. "I didn't speak; I didn't walk; I didn't do anything."

Morton was shot in the head, and after years of physical and speech therapy, she's worked her way back to a normal life.

"I'm better. I'm not cured. I don't speak well but I'm alive," Morton said.

But she was left with paralysis on her right side, and a drop foot.

"I fell all the time, and it's embarrassing and it hurts," she said while laughing.

Morton fell several times a week, but recently, that hasn't been the case.

Two months ago, she began using this electronic device that does the job her brain used to do. It tells the muscles in her leg to work by giving them little shocks.

It's called a neuroprosthesis. And a study has found it can help people who've had a stroke or a traumatic brain injury. But what's exciting is they've found the longer people use it, the better they end up walking.

"We are creating a real muscle contraction, so it's just like going to the gym and working out when she's walking; it is strengthening the muscle," Dynamic Orthotics and Prosthetics' Jason Jennings said.

Morton's next goal is to open her right hand, which has been clenched in a fist for two decades. She tried the electronic hand stimulator for the first time. It stimulates the muscles in five places.

The special education teacher who has already survived so much now has even more hope.

The electronic hand and leg stimulators are expensive. They cost over $6,000, but for more information about them, you can visit Bioness.com.


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