Health Team

Device Helps Stroke Survivors Regain Use of Paralyzed Limbs

Posted November 28, 2006

Charles Moody, 48, said he should have seen his stroke coming in March of 2004. Even being black is a risk factor.

"I had a high stress job. I had a family history. I was diabetic and I wasn't taking my medicine", said Moody.

High blood pressure is another risk factor. Moody even ignored a warning sign -- a TIA (trans ischemic attack) or mini-stroke. He felt numbness on one side of his body, but it passed in 15 minutes, so he thought he was fine. TIA symptoms may also include nausea, imbalance, dizziness, blurred or obstructed vision, confusion and sometimes, unconsciousness.

For Moody, the real stroke came six months after the mini-stroke.

"Everything just went numb on my right side," he said.

With a stroke, a blood clot breaks loose from an artery wall, travels to the brain and and blocks oxygen and nutrients. A portion of the brain begins to starve. Moody remembers the right side of his body went limp.

"Initially, I could not walk, I could not talk, my face was crooked," Moody said.

Moody was able to get quick medical attention in a hospital emergency room at Lake Norman near Charlotte. A TPA injection which dissolves clots improved Moody's odds of recovery. However, he still faced a long road of rehabilitation.

"I had to learn everything all over again," Mood said.

Moody re-learned how to bathe, clothe himself and eat. He had to do it all without the use of his right hand.

"My hand was like a clenched fist. Initially, I could not open it," Moody said.

"When they're reaching out for something, their hand closes and they're not able to open it, unless they manually open their fingers up," said Amber Lewis, an occupational therapist with WakeMed Rehabilitation.

Now, a spring-loaded glove called SaeboFlex is helping Charles re-learn right-hand function.

"You see the springs keep your hand opened up and you've got to concentrate on closing it," Moody said.

He uses it from four to five hours a day, including therapy at WakeMed's Rehab Center.

Lewis said the device helps exercise finger and hand muscles that were difficult to put to use in therapy before. It's hard work, but Moody said it's worth it.

"I'm never giving up on my right side, never," he said.

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