Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: Warning, Will Robinson!

Past science fiction is now science fact. The title is from the old Science fiction show Lost in Space. I used to love that old robot. Now looking back, it's so corny! Robot don't resemble that robot at all. Especially where robotic devices to help stroke survivors are concerned.

There are "robotic" devices on the low end of the scale like the Bioness devices that can replace an AFO for foot drop after a stroke and the one to retrain the hand and wrist. To more elaborate robotic devices used in physical therapy departments for stroke survivors. Unfortunately, not mine. It is often stated that the more reps you do retrains the undamaged parts of your brain to take over for the damaged part. It's called by some fancy names like neuroplasticity or building new neuronal pathways. While I understand the process, to do the required number of reps will take years to recover. While the exact number of reps it takes is open to conjecture, let's just say an enormous of awake hours. But if they could be done while sleeping hours too, it would shorten the time if the damaged neurons would just stay quiets. Of course they won't. My clonus goes into overdrive with the Bioness AFO device.

Today, robotics are constantly being developed as hope for making the stroke survivor replicate what they've lost. There isn't a week that goes by that some new device whether used in therapy or in used in daily life would be a godsend to the stroke survivor. The problem with any new technology is the same everywhere cost and availability.

While my hospital therapy department may have the hoist lift on the treadmill, the robotic leg movement robot isn't cost effective. While the big cities my have an arm assist robotics, my medium city doesn't for the same reason. While the bottom robotic assisted technology (step aside, Ironman) in the bottom picture is still in research and nobody has got it.

If we all had unlimited funds to do what we wanted to, all of us would jump on the bandwagon of the robotic assist movement or go where it was available. Wouldn't we all wear something heavy or uncomfortable to make paralyzed or spastic muscles do what they should do? I know I would. The same thing goes for recovering faster from the deficits of my strokes.

Unfortunately, most robotic devices are rejected by most insurance carriers as experimental and just won't pay for it. I'm not sure what Medicare pays for or not because I ain't had to deal with those folks. But since the federal government is the biggest bureaucracy of them all, I imagine that they don't either.

So what's the answer? How do we get it? I don't have the answer unless we wait until it is as common place in use as toilet seats, but that can be a hundred year wait also. Demand that our stroke organizations put pressure on political powers that be? That doesn't work. Just ask Dean. Wait until more people are affected by stroke? There's way too many of us now in the queue. (1 or 2 out of 10 men) Revolt? Storm Washington like the 100 Man March? (What did that truly accomplish?)

I just don't have the answers, but...
Nothing is impossible.

5 comments:

  1. All of those robotic breakthroughs are useless if people can't afford to use them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've had a Bioness L300 for my leg for several years and have used it all day (12 hours straight, even though I'm supposed to give my poor skin a break for an hour mid-day). I absolutely love it, although I have had to have it repaired a few times. To make it more affordable, there's a monthly rent-to-own program.At $500/month, it takes a yearlong rental to buy it. While it's not a trivial amount, my attitude after I tried it the first time is that's I'd gladly pay $6k to be able to walk safely again.

    It's very good at both preventing foot drop and stabilizing my ankle, making it much safer for me to go down steps (and curbs) and without my cane. Unfortunately, it has not translated into eliminating foot drop or stabilizing my ankle simply by using it; without it, I still have foot drop. If the arm/hand one was something I could wear all day to help me, instead of therapy, I'd buy that too. Actually, I could walk well enough to get by without the leg gizmo, and would have preferred to get my hand useable rather than my leg. But I didn't have that choice.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The ironic thing is that robotic therapy is a cheap way to replace a therapist if the company has a lease program.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I chuckled Warning, Will Robinson! in Lost in Space -- I was just a kid & the program is in the ’50ish & I love/hate the robot!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Isn't it a shame how economics plays into healthcare. Don't get me started on some to the problems with prescriptions, etc. All I know to do is to offer you one and all {{{{hugs}}}

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from you! Agree, Disagree, Indifferent...no matter. Even if it's to say you were here.