H200 BIONESS Hand Rehabilitaion System
The Bioness team, responsible for developing the more widely known L300 lower limb BIONESS system have recently released their hand rehabilitation system here in Australia. I attended the training course in March held in Olympic Park and presented by one of the developers and a highly experienced physiotherapist located in the United States.
The NESS H200 is the latest in electrical stimulation technology and is targeted for use in people who have an upper limb impairment following a neurological episode. Most of the research to date comes from overseas and is based on patients who have suffered a stroke, however, similar rehabilitation principles can also be applied to patients with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders.
The training course held on the 2nd March was excellent and clearly outlined the benefits and limitations of this new, exciting piece of rehabilitation equipment. The lightweight hand orthosis has five surface electrodes which are pre-set to stimulate the appropriate muscles under the skin. The control unit sends the electrical impulses to the electrodes housed in the orthosis, enabling patients to grasp, pinch and release their fingers. This can help to train pick up and release of different sized objects as well as stretching the soft tissue, which is often difficult to do after a stroke due to tightness and spasms.
Although highly sophisticated, this piece of equipment is still no silver bullet. It requires a lot of training with research suggesting 90 minutes of active participation training a day and the prescribing physiotherapist still needs to be actively involved throughout the treatment. The movements achieved with the machine are gross movements only and do not include fine motor movements of individual fingers. Overall though it is a great step forward in the promotion of upper limb rehabilitation following neurological injury.