Myomo, a spinout from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has created a robotic arm brace for people with limb paralysis from neurological disorders such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or stroke to help them regain movement with their hands and arms.
The robotic arm brace, MyoPro, senses the patient’s electromyography (EMG) signals through non-invasive sensors and restores function to their paralyzed arms. Patients who use the device are able to do things they were unable to do or found difficult to do before such as feeding themselves, doing laundry, carrying objects or even returning to work.
With the robotic brace, patients use their own muscle signals to control movements of a paretic or injured arm. When the patient tries to bend their arm, or open and close their hand, precision sensors in the brace detect the weak muscle signals which activate motors to move the hand and arm in the desired directions.
With this device, the user fully controls their own hand and arm while the brace amplifies their weak muscle signal to help move the limb.
“Many individuals who have suffered a stroke, spinal cord injury or other nerve injury have been told after months—sometimes years—of rehab that if they haven’t recovered then that’s it for the rest of their life—that they’re never going to use their arm or hand again,” said Paul Gudonis, CEO, Myomo. “The MyoPro device has sensors that pick up individuals’ trace signals on the surface of the skin and amplify them to turn them into motion. When a patient thinks, ‘I want my elbow to bend,’ it bends, or ‘I want my elbow to extend,’ it extends.”
The company says the ideal candidate for the robotic arm brace are people with limited mobility or long-term muscle weakness in the hand and arm as a result of a neurological disorder or condition including military veterans, stroke survivors, survivors of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries including patients with ALS, Brachial Plexus Injury or MS.
The robotic arm is in several rehab facilities throughout the US including the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Loma Linda Medical Center. The device is also in 20 Veterans Administration hospitals around the country.
“Our goal is to not only give these patients hope but provide them with a technology that will help them return to daily activities and work and give them their lives back,” added Gudonis.
Myomo is an investor-backed startup and has raised more than $20 million from individual investors and managers with healthcare and high-tech experience including Mountain Group Capital since 2006. In June 2017, the company went public under the NYSW MKT under JOBS Act Regulation A+ where they raised a combined capital of $7.9 million.
|Jennifer Kite-Powell is a writer who looks at the intersection of technology and science with art & culture, health, environment and industry. You can follow her on Twitter.|