The HandTutor, ArmTutor, LegTutor and 3DTutor Aids Victims of Brain Injury

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Iraq veteran Shane Hannaford runs on Riverside Drive at the 31st Street pedestrian bridge in Tulsa last week. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World

     Iraq veteran Shane Hannaford runs Riverside Drive at the 31st Street pedestrian bridge in Tulsa last week. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World

Published: 9/1/2011  2:22 AM
Last Modified: 9/1/2011  7:39 AM

In shock from the improvised explosive device hidden in a rotting donkey carcass! He didn’t feel pain, and he certainly didn’t feel the injury in his brain.

Home from Iraq, months later ,shrapnel still embedded in his hand. He used a cane as his leg began to heal, Hannaford got lost driving in Tulsa, where he was raised.  He also noticed trouble with his short-term memory, and, he would sometimes cry for no reason.

Hannaford suffered a traumatic brain injury, one of the signature conditions during the war on terror.

More than 35,000 U.S service soldiers have been wounded in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan – statistics from  Department of Defense, although that number is often called far too low.

Improved treatment options and the type of artillery being used in these conflicts has caused more soldiers to return home with missing limbs, a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hannaford’s injuries prevented him from going back to Iraq as a Marine.  However, he wasn’t interested in a desk job and instead worked for a contractor, providing security for the Army Corps of Engineers who role was to destroy caches of Iraqi weapons.

“I felt a lot of satisfaction going back over there,” he said. “I got to prevent (what happened to me) happening to other Marines.”

Now, Hannaford is a Realtor in Tulsa. He walks without assistance but has to take copious notes during business dealings or he’ll forget the beginning of a conversation before it ends. Now he sets alarms on his phone and puts as much information as he can into his iPad.  This has helped his time management is off and he often has trouble focusing.

“You just have to suck it up and learn how to compensate for it,” he said.

It’s more difficult with personal relationships, where taking notes is awkward at best. He believes his brain injury played a large role in his divorce. Also, relationships with family and friends are difficult, he said.

A blast injury that causes traumatic brain injury creates pressure inside the skull this adversely affecting the brain in a variety of ways. Symptoms of TBI include headaches, irritability, depression, memory loss, anxiety and trouble sleeping. It is also known to affect parts of the brain that deal with empathy and social behaviors, this was reported by Elana Newman, McFarland professor of psychology at the University of Tulsa.

Traumatic brain injury are not fully understood. Symptoms are often treated with cognitive rehabilitation and life skills and vocational training in additional to physical and occupational therapy for movement impairments.

When TBI and other brain injury results in joint movement difficulties then HandTutor, ArmTutor, LegTutor and 3DTutor have been effective in improving coordination and performance. The wearable devices  consist of challenging and motivating games that allow the patient to practice isolated or and/or interjoint coordination exercises. Powerful rehabilitation software allows the therapist to undertake objective and quantitative information on the patient’s functional impairment. This allows a customized program to be designed to match the patient’s ability.  Installed in leading U.S. and foreign hospitals and clinics and available for home use through telerehabilitation the Tutors system is being used by children as well as adults.


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