New device to help impaired stroke patients improve arm function.

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A NEW device is lending hope to stroke patients with arm and hand problems as a new device is being hailed as being able to improve arm impairment and function. 

The device, the Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) was developed by MicroTransponder, a medical device company and  studied by a team at the University of Glasgow.

A study published in The Lancet found that physiotherapy combined with the VNS showed more than double the improvement of physiotherapy alone.

The University of Glasgow - Health News Scotland
After being studied at the University of Glasgow, the VNS device has been proven to have good results. Photo by Johnny Briggs on Unsplash.

The VNS “has been shown to significantly improve arm impairment and function in people with long-term arm weakness after ischaemic stroke.” According to the University of Glasgow.

This study looked at 108 people with moderate to severe arm problems from the UK and the USA.

After six weeks, nearly half of the people who got the VNS implant showed a “clinically meaningful response” compared to only 24% in the control group.

A researcher -Health News Scotland
Research at the University has shown that the VNS has helped stroke patients regain strength in their arms. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.

Jesse Dawson, a professor of stroke medicine at the University of Glasgow said:  “This is the first study to find clinically- and statistically-significant effects of a neuromodulation therapy for people with arm and hand weakness after chronic stroke.

“We saw improvement for the VNS group in both impairment and functional measures compared to Controls. In particular, the clinically meaningful response rate doubled with VNS for both impairment and functional outcomes. Importantly, the VNS doesn’t work alone – it adds to the effect of intensive rehabilitation”  

The control group had surgery to implant a false VNS and did physiotherapy. The group with the real VNS system did the same physiotherapy but they got a real VNS implant.

Dr. Teresa Kimberley, a senior investigator on the project said: “The results of this clinical study suggest that the addition of VNS enhances the effect of best practice stroke rehabilitation

“We are looking forward to potentially establishing the therapy as part a new standard of care for stroke rehabilitation.“

Approximately 80% of people who have a stroke suffer from arm weakness, 50% to 60% still have this problem 6 months after their stroke.

The VNS involves surgery to implant the device, once implanted the device stimulates specific nerves during intensive task-specific rehabilitation.

Efforts are currently underway to try to gain marketing authorisation from US and EU regulatory bodies.