FDA approves use of robotic hand for stroke rehab

IpsiHand System
The Neurolutions IpsiHand Upper Extremity Rehabilitation System, or the IpsiHand System, uses electrodes placed on the head to read the brain’s intended movement for the fingers via a robotic hand. Movement is key in rehabilitation for stroke patients. Photo credit Neurolutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of a robotic hand to assist in stroke rehabilitation.

The device, which looks like a metal wrist splint and fits like a glove, re-educates the muscles in a stroke patient, specifically for patients with hand, wrist or arm disability.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. About 795,000 Americans have a stroke each year.

Dr. Alberto Esquenazi, chief medical officer at MossRehab in Elkins Park, said movement is essential for stroke recovery.

“Utilization of the limb in stroke is a very important rehabilitation intervention,” he said. “So the more you use the limb, the better it is. And using technology to try to do that has been a way to achieve it.”

He said the Neurolutions IpsiHand Upper Extremity Rehabilitation System, or simply the IpsiHand System, uses electrodes placed on the head to read the brain’s intended movement for the fingers.

When a stroke occurs on one side of the brain, the opposite side of the body suffers the damage. So, the electrodes are placed on the healthy side of the brain, allowing the patient to essentially control the device’s movement.

“It sits outside of your arm and it moves your fingers, essentially your thumb and index and middle finger. It allows grip and release, or pinch and release,” he explained.

IpsiHand is currently only being used in rehabilitation facilities, but eventually, Esquenazi said it could be available for at-home use.