Bethesda, MD - Imagine being 17-years-old and finding yourself in the
hospital, unable to speak, with the left side of your body completely paralyzed.
You're a healthy, young high school athlete who simply collapsed on the court
during basketball practice. This is what happened to Gerald Gordey 40 years ago.
And he's been battling the debilitating effects of his stroke ever since.
One in seven Americans will suffer a stroke. Stroke is the No. 1 cause of
serious disability in adults in the United States, according to a recent report
by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the NIH. Like
Gordey, many stroke survivors face months of rehabilitation and a lifetime of
pain and paralysis. The Centers for Disease Control reports more than 1,100,000
American adults experience difficulty performing everyday activities as a result
of a stroke.
Now, a new study accepted for press in the peer-reviewed journal
Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair challenges the way we've been
rehabilitating stroke survivors for years. The study identifies a trend that
suggests traditional rehabilitation is stopped before patients have reached
their full potential for recovery. It also suggests that a new medical device,
called the WalkAide®, can reveal hidden potential for additional patient
Traditional programs discharge patients three months post-stroke, as it is
generally accepted that a stroke survivor's potential for recovery plateaus
around the twelve week mark. This leaves little hope for additional improvement
after that time.
This recent study examines the potential for improvement when the WalkAide is
used for one full year, specifically by patients who experience a form of
paralysis known as "foot drop" that significantly hinders the patient's ability
to walk normally. The results are encouraging.
At the traditional three month mark, when rehabilitation is typically
stopped, the walking speed of patients wearing the WalkAide increased by 15%.
However, with continued usage of the WalkAide system through six months, the
patients' walking speed increased by 32%. Even more encouraging, after twelve
months, the patients' walking speed had increased by nearly 50%. The study also
showed the number of steps taken per day by WalkAide users increased
significantly over the year. Patients suffering from foot drop due to spinal
cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and other pathologies such as multiple
sclerosis and cerebral palsy were included in the study and also experienced the
same positive results.
"What we're seeing here is hope for a more functional recovery from stroke,"
said Conrad Kufta, MD, board certified neurosurgeon and former Senior Staff
Neurosurgeon in the Surgical Neurology Branch of the NIH. "Previously, the
belief was that once a certain time elapsed, further recovery was minimal at
best. There wasn't much opportunity for the patient to advance further. With the
WalkAide, patients like Gerald, who suffered a stroke over 40 years ago, regain
mobility that was believed to be permanently lost after his brain attack. This
is very promising news for stroke survivors with foot drop."
Cleared for marketing by the FDA in September 2005, the WalkAide system by
Bethesda-based Innovative Neurotronics, Inc. combats foot drop by applying low
level electrical currents directly to a motor nerve in the leg which instructs
the muscle to flex the foot so the patient can walk normally. Contrary to
traditional therapies that require the patient to spend hours in hospitals or
rehabilitation facilities, the WalkAide is small, portable, and easily operated
by the patient. Worn around the leg, just below the knee, the AA
battery-operated device is about the size of a deck of cards.
"This is the most exciting innovation in orthotics since the introduction of
advanced moldable plastic technology in the 1970s," said Deanna Fish, Certified
Prosthetist/Orthotist (CPO) and Director of Clinical Support for Innovative
Neurotronics. "With the WalkAide, we'll be able to help people in ways we've
never been able to before."
The now 57-year-old Gordey is one of the first patients in the world to wear
the device. And he couldn't be more pleased with the results. "The beneficial
effects of the WalkAide were immediate," Gordey said. "I could walk with less
difficulty. I wasn't dragging my foot or tripping over my toe. Muscles I hadn't
used in years began to give off that nice sore feeling you get after going for a
run for the first time in awhile."
While the initial study provided encouraging results and patients like Gordey
offer positive testimony, the WalkAide developers at Innovative Neurotronics are
interested in uncovering even more evidence of the device's efficacy and the
need for extended treatment paradigms. Full scale, statistically significant
clinical trials are underway in the United States to further examine the
WalkAide's ability to strengthen cortico-spinal pathways and retrain damaged
communication channels between the brain and the leg.
Media Note: Professional
Beta SP Cam b-roll available. High resolution photographs and press kit
available for download at: http://www.ininc.us/newsevents/forthepress.html.
About Innovative Neurotronics, Inc.:
Specializing in the field
of functional electrical stimulation, Innovative Neurotronics, Inc. identifies
emerging Myo-Orthotics Technologies® developed at research centers and
universities throughout the world that use neuromuscular stimulation to improve
the functionality of an impaired limb. Innovative Neurotronics, Inc. is a wholly
owned subsidiary of Hanger Orthopedic Group, Inc. (NYSE:HGR), the world's
largest provider of orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) patient care.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Hanger owns and operates 624 patient care
centers in 46 states including the District of Columbia, with 3,290 employees
including 1,021 practitioners (as of 12/31/05). For more information on
Innovative Neurotronics, Inc, visit www.ininc.us. For more information on
Hanger, visit www.hanger.com.
Certain statements included in this press release are forward looking
statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of
1995. Please refer to the Company's SEC filings for factors that could cause
actual results to differ materially from the Company's expectations