TMH unveils robotic arm for neurological patient rehabilitation

Published: May. 16, 2018 at 6:39 PM EDT
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By: Brittany Bedi | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 16, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- North Florida, South Georgia and several other southeast states are in what the Center of Disease Control calls the ‘stroke belt’. It’s a region with higher-than-average concentrations of stroke deaths and hospitalizations.

Tallahassee Memorial Hospital is turning to robotic technology to help improve stroke rehabilitation. They are using a new InMotion robotic arm.

A patient sits down in front of the machine and grabs the white handle. The goal is to look at a computer screen to guide a dot to a series of flashing points. The robotic arms can sense how much assistance a patient may need to move the handle during therapy. It can either add more assistance, or let off a bit. Occupational therapists sit nearby to make sure the patient uses the right muscles.

After the session, patients receive different numerical scores on the screen. Therapists help the patient understand each number and what their goal is.

Angela Maine is the southeast regional sales manager for Bionik Laboratories. The company works to create solutions for people with neurological disorders and distributes the InMotion robotic arm.

“The InMotion robot is a robot that was developed at MIT 28 years ago. There’s more than 180 published research studies on its outcomes with patients,” said Maine. “It gives high repetition with patient feedback and we see faster outcomes than we do than when it is just standard therapy alone.”

Sheree Porter, the director of therapy services at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, says TMH rehab did a brief trial of the machine before acquiring the robotic arm. She said patients were so excited to sign up to use the new therapy.

"The patient gets the bio-feedback and they realize what they're able to do is pretty much the body overriding the brain and the brain catching up and saying 'Hey, I can do that," said Porter.

Tallahassee Memorial is the only rehabilitation center in North Florida to have this type of robotic arm. The next closest InMotion arm is in Atlanta, Georgia.