Tutor System Complements Breathing Therapy for SCI Patients

Mt. McKinley "Denali" elevation 20,3...

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Maureen McFadden reporting in WNDU.COM, October, 2011 files this story.

Each year over 10,000 Americans suffer a spinal cord injury (SCI).
For some this results in total paralysis and leaves others in short and long term rehabilitation in order to improve  their strength and functional everyday living skills.  Enter an experimental physical and occupational therapy rehabilitation therapy that has patients breathing their way to functional improvement.
Take 27-year-old Drew Durrencewho 8 years ago suffered a SCI in a dirt bike accident. He said, “When I tried to get up, I lost feeling and movement from about chest down.” Through intensive therapy, determination and hard work Drew has regained some movement ability in his arms and legs. He is now part of a unique trial.
Randy Trumbower Physical therapist from  the department of Rehabilitation Medicine Emory University School of Medicine studies how oxygen deprivation or intermittent hypoxia can trigger molecular changes that excite, or wake up, the nervous system. This is achieved by the patient  alternately breathing air with low, 9% and normal – 21 percent oxygen.
Drew describes how the treatment has helped him perform everyday life activities by giving his legs a little bit more strength to allow standing.
According to the Mayo Clinic: A spinal cord injury (SCI) may cause permanent loss of movement and or sensation and disability below the site of the injury. With the ability to control limbs and functional dysfunction in movement ability depending on 2 factors: Firstly the neurological level of the injury in the spinal cord or the lowest functioning segment of the spinal cord, and secondly the completeness of the injury. Complete SCI is characterized if all sensory and motor function is lost below the neurological level. This is compared to an incomplete SCI if some sensory and motor function remains below the injury site. Symptoms of spinal cord injury may include loss of movement, loss of the ability to feel heat or cold, loss of touch, difficulty breathing; coughing and loss of  bladder and bowel control.
Spinal cord injury can be caused by a traumatic blow to the spine that leads to fracture, dislocation or the vertebrae being crushed or compressed. This causes the nerve fibers that pass through the injured area to be affected. the nerve fibres can no longer normally convey the movement and sensory information to and from muscles and nerves below the site of the injury. Additionally, a SCI may be caused by a gunshot or knife wound that penetrates and then cuts the spinal cord.  Finally diseases such as Arthritis, cancer, inflammation, infections, or disc degeneration can also cause spinal cord injury.
The Tutors (HandTutor, ArmTutor, LegTutor and 3DTutor) present an excellent supplement to new and traditional therapies for SCI patients with incomplete . This is because the HandTutor, ArmTutor, LegTutor and 3DTutor allow the physical and occupational therapist to give patients with incomplete SCI customized intensive and repetitive exercise practice according to their movement ability. This allows for the dose and intensiveness of manual therapy to be increased as the patient is motivated to do the correct exercises without doing compensatory movement . The HandTutor, ArmTutor, LegTutor and 3DTutor has been shown to improve range of motion and speed and accuracy of movement and improve functional movement ability in patients with SCI. The HandTutor is being used in leading Spinal cord injury rehabilitation departments in the US and UK in addition to outpatient and private clinics. Pateints discharged from inpatient rehabilitation departments are benefiting from the HandTutor, ArmTutor, LegTutor and 3DTutor and intensive exercise practice in the comfort of their own homes. The home care can be supported by tele rehabilitation.  clinics and at home through the use of telerehabilitation.
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