The Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) has become the first NHS facility in the country to offer stroke patients access to an innovative new rehabilitation system.
The Bioness NESS system has been designed to restore nerve and muscle activity and enable stroke patients to regain functionality in their forearm and hand. The electronic devices are worn on the arm or leg and use neurostimulation to help patients suffering from post-stroke paralysis. They were part funded by cash raised by RBH physiotherapy assistant, Drew Plummer, who ran the Reading Half Marathon in March. He donated his sponsorship money to the Royal Berks Charity, which also received an anonymous donation from another supporter. Eight members of the stroke support team also did a money-spinning skydive to further swell the funds.
It is quite motivating for patients to see their hand moving. One patient had no movement at all and after using the device they had really good movement, which stayed for a few days afterwards
Mark Goff, charity director, said: "If we get hold of stroke quick enough, we can restore function, which is what is happening here."
One of the first people to use the equipment was patient, Steve Low. The 44-year-old had a stroke in April, which affected his right leg, arm and speech. He said: "It's good. I'm noticing a difference, but it is still early days."
And physiotherapist, Sarah Adlington, added: "It is quite new stuff and the device can be used as soon at the patient is medically stable. It reminds the brain that the functions are still there and builds new pathways to the brain. "It is quite motivating for patients to see their hand moving. One patient had no movement at all and after using the device they had really good movement, which stayed for a few days afterwards."