Myomo (My Own Motion) Robots to the Rescue!
As the first facility in Los Angeles County to offer Myomo, the Center for Rehabilitation Medicine is giving people the freedom to move again.
Eating with a fork, opening a door, reaching for a high-five -- these movements don't often bring on tears of happiness. But for people whose arms are partially paralyzed, Myomo is having an emotional, life-changing result.
The Myomo mPower 1000 Neurorobotic System is FDA approved for clinical or home use.
Scientific research shows the brain has the capacity to heal. In addition, neuroscience research has found that by actively engaging neurologically impaired patients in repetitive task practice, the brain can relearn movement by creating new pathways to motor functions.
Myomo, which stands for “My Own Motion”, is the first wearable, portable robotic device to help stroke survivors relearn how to move affected arms using their own muscle signals.
The system consists of a portable elbow brace made of a lightweight aerospace metal, and includes advanced robotics processing software, noninvasive surface sensors for biceps and triceps, and a lightweight battery unit.
The Myomo System employs a feedback-based closed loop system, which facilitates muscle re-education by assisting the patient with desired motion in concert with his or her own muscular activation. The process enables the brain to re-map motor pathways following an injury.
How It Works
Patented EMG (electromyography) control software continuously monitors and senses, but does not stimulate, the affected muscles. The patient self-initiates and achieves natural movement patterns using their own muscular signals that indicate an intention to move.
The system senses even a very weak EMG muscle signal and then processes data to a motor on the device that enables the desired motion. This processing occurs so quickly that it is not apparent to the patient. Importantly, EMG-driven robotics requires that patients are actively engaged throughout the therapy session; if they stop, the device stops. No electrical stimulation or invasive procedures are employed.
Indications for Use
The Myomo System is indicated for use by stroke patients to: 1) facilitate muscle re-education, and 2) maintain or increase range-of-motion.
What a Patient Session Would Entail
- First, padding is used to customize the device to fit each patient.
- Next, the sensor is placed on the skin’s surface above the muscle group that the treatment tasks will focus on. For example, if the therapist is working on feeding, the sensor would be placed over the bicep. If the therapist is working on using the upper extremities to help push up from a sitting position to standing, the sensor would be placed over the tricep.
- Then, with the push of a button, the device automatically calibrates in approximately 10 seconds using the electrical muscle activity signal that it reads from the patient’s muscle group.
- Lastly, the therapist can quickly set the amount of assist that is needed for the task based on patient ability.
During therapy, the therapist can also easily adjust the level of power assist based on the patient’s performance. Due to the transparent nature of the device, the therapist is still able to provide manual guidance and cuing to the patient when needed.
The patient initiates all motion, while the Myomo device assists in providing accurate controlled assistance and feedback. With this capability, Myomo helps the patient reinforce movements within normal limits of the task, based on the expertise of the patient's treating therapist.
Is Myomo Right for Me?
If you are experiencing limited mobility or muscle weakness in the arm due to a neurological disorder, you may be a candidate for the Myomo Mobility System. Myomo is applicable to a broad range of stroke survivors. It used to be believed that stroke victims had maximized their recovery within the first six months following the episode.
Now, however, research shows that recovery can take place for several years after a stroke. Myomo technology has been clinically proven effective in patients from two days to 20 years post stroke. With commitment to a therapy protocol with Myomo, a stroke survivor can begin using their arms for routine, daily tasks that were not possible before.
The therapeutic effect varies from person to person, but a good reference is learning how to write: it takes a while for the brain and muscles to master it, but progress is quick.