In February, John Martin of Williamsburg, Blair County had a stroke which severely damaged his left side.
He couldn't walk or use his left arm. Physical therapy helped John regain the ability to walk, but his left arm's has been slower to respond.
At HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Altoona, Occupational Therapist Paul Mills says the part of the brain that controls John's arm has been damaged. As Mills explained, "the parts are working, but the control box is impaired, so what we do in rehabilitation is we try to train another part of the brain to do what the old part used to do." To do that, Mills uses a tool called the Reogo..
John sits at a console with a screen that looks like a video game. He uses his arm to move a robotic arm, forward and back and forth, to hit a target on the screen.
The machine moves his arm forward and stops. Then, John has to push it along, and finally the robotic arm takes over and completes the action.
Mills said, "as that arm robotically takes his arm through the motion he's thinkig about doing it or helping the machine do it and that helps re-establish that conneciton between the mind and the arm."
At first John had no movement in his arm. He couldn't shrug his shoulders or bend his elbow. Now he can. That may seem like a small victory, but Mills said it will make daily tasks easier.
"So when he's getting dressed and somebody is maybe helping him, he can at least bend that elbow up, they can slip a sleeve on which to you and me is very simple, but to him that gives him that much more level of independence." Mills said. Being able to shrug his shoulder also helps keep John's shoulder stable and pain-free.
According to Mills, some patients get a wonderful recovery with the Reogo, for others it's parti