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Device Can Help Speed Up Rehab Of Stroke Patients At Home

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EAST SANDWICH, MA — A stroke can kill or it can leave you partially paralyzed. The road to recovery can be slow and frustrating, but a new device is making rehabilitation quicker and more convenient.

Last year, a stroke left Dick Meehan partially paralyzed. He lost the use of his left hand.

"I couldn't open those fingers at all. I had to pry them open," he said.

Meehan said he has seen great improvement after therapy with a hand neuroprosthesis.

"It's similar to a splint but it actually has electrodes built into it," said Kristen Smith, of Rehab Hospital of Cape and Islands.

It stimulates nerves and muscles to restore movement. The same idea has been used in rehab centers for decades, but patients can take the device home.

Meehan wears it three hours a day. In just a few weeks, he has regained some control of his hand.

"Some of my vitamins, I'm able to put the bottle here and clutch it and open it with the other hand which I could not do at all," he said.

"He's using his hand to do things during the day like dressing, bathing, feeding himself so that is an extraordinary recovery for someone that, at first, didn't think they'd have any recovery," Smith said.

Meehan did not start the therapy until months after his stroke. Researchers are now conducting a study to see if it's more effective when used immediately after a stroke.

The device is also used as therapy for patients with brain injuries and some spinal injuries due to stroke.

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