Gabrielle Giffords Recovery May Include HandTutor

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On November 16, 2011  Carey Goldberg discussed the following for WBUR.ORG

There has been wall-to-wall coverage of the remarkable recovery by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Congresswoman, shot in the head in January 2011. The Giffords have now written a new book  called “Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope.” which her husband Mark Kelly has been promoting on stations from ABC to The Huffington Post. The book talks about Gabrielle’s frustrations, her indomitable attitude and her plans to get back to work.
20 years ago Carey’s mother was in a terrible car accident and during her occupational and physical therapy and rehabilitation Carey saw survivors of severe brain injury. The patients often sat in their beds or in wheelchairs staring blankly for long periods of time with the memories of the vibrant people they used to be before the injury. These were also courageous and brave people. This led Carey to reflect on whether stories of miraculous recovery may do more harm than good as it makes it more harder for families like her own to accept the current functional ability of their loved ones.
Carey recently discussed her views with Dr. Ross Zafonte of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, an expert on rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury tbi who is also chair of Harvard Medical School’s rehabilitation department. She asked whether it is a problem that Gabrielle Giffords will be the image of brain injury recovery. Ross’s answer  diplomatically pointed out that with traumatic brain injury the extent of the injury and type of mechanism for the injury impacted on the patients potential for recovery in addition to the patient’s gender, and genetics. In other words the type of injury plays a role on the potential for recovery. Dr. Ross Zafonte of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital then went on to explain how in the past 15 to 20 years physical and occupational therapy has improved on maximizing motor and cognitive potential, especially motor potential which equates to patients movement and functional ability post brain injury improving.
Carey then asked what should be the message that brain injury patients and their families should take away from Gabrielle Giffords story?
The message is that of hope, persistence and potential for recovery. A message for recovery and the importance of physical REHABILITATION.  A message that says that many patients will have the same functional recovery as Gabrielle Giffords and the physical rehabilitation community is enthusiastic about this.
So who does best: Patients with very focal injuries (injury to small brain area) that are quickly operated on tend to do best.  Also high-functioning at baseline patients.
The rehabilitation community now understands more on the physiology of brain injury and this has led to new ways to help survivors recover their motor function and optimize on their rehabilitation outcome so they can perform functional everyday living tasks. We teach survivors to walk, improve their cognitive ability, improve their balance and improve their fine and gross motor arm and hand movements.
The HandTutor and its sister devices (ArmTutor, LegTutor, 3DTutor)  are FDA and CE certified and are being used in leading U.S. and foreign hospitals in their rehabilitation programs including Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. They have had success in improving movement of the hand, wrist, elbow, knee, ankle, foot and other joints of the body following traumatic injuries.
The newly developed HANDTUTOR, a hand therapy tool used by Occupational therapists, is an example of the modern tools that are key to the neuromuscular rehabilitation for TBI and stroke victims and those recovering from spinal cord injuries. The HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR, LEGTUTOR and 3DTUTOR consist of wearable glove and braces that detect limb movements showing the patient how much active or assisted active movement they are actually accomplishing while they perform that exercise prescribed to them by the physical and occupational therapist. This works and motivates the patient to continue intensive exercise practice as the rehabilitation software uses special rehabilitation games to set a new target  in terms of the patient’s ability to move their limb. The HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR, LEGTUTOR and 3DTUTOR devices then measure the limb movement and give feedback on the success of the patient in  this new objective set by the occupational and or physical therapist. In this  way the patient is given real  time feedback that allows the patient to understand which effort is more successful in allowing them to move their affected limb again. In conclusion the TUTOR system provides exercises that are challenging and motivating and allow for repetitive and intensive exercise practice – the main tool in manual therapy. The HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR, LEGTUTOR and 3DTUTOR are now part of the rehabilitation program in Spaulding and leading U.S. German, Italian, French, UK and other foreign hospitals. See WWW.HANDTUTOR.COM for more information.

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