Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Bionic Man

From Jenny Sue Got Married, originally posted on December 11, 2011.

"We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Al Yarrington will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster."

OK, so maybe that's a bit exaggerated, but I am excited that the technology is available to Al - the technology to re-animate dead tissue mobilize paralyzed muscles. Friday night, Phil Muccio, founder of AxioBionics, visited our home and demonstrated that Al can regain some use of his arm with the help of electrostimulation. (On a side note, AxioBionics actually worked with Christopher Reeve "to restore strength and prevent the all-too-familiar muscle atrophy that accompanies spinal cord injury as well as help maintain his health". Cool, huh?) So, this man came to our house - all the way from Ann Arbor on a Friday evening - to show us products that can potentially help Al.

AxioBionics is going to build Al a wearable sleeve that will have 3 sets of electrodes to stimulate different muscle groups in his arm. He will be able to lift his arm, move his forearm, use his fingers. He will not have extensive small motor skills, but he will also have a switch that will allow him to choose to grasp or release with his hand. During occupational therapy, Al had electrostim on his arm, and he had a great response to it. I had often wished that he could get an electrostim unit to use at home, for further therapy, and now that is becoming a reality.

They are also going to work on a leg sleeve that will counteract his "foot drop", which inhibits his ability to take a step without his foot dragging on the ground. He also has to have a new AFO (ankle-foot-orthosis) built, which will fit his leg better, since the last one was built in January, shortly after his stroke, and his leg muscles have atrophied quite a bit.

Exciting things coming around the bend. In the meantime, Al is practicing his Bionic sound effects.

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