New device helps patients improve how they walk - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

New device helps patients improve how they walk

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Sara Scott is learning how to walk again with the help of the Bioness L300 Plus. Sara Scott is learning how to walk again with the help of the Bioness L300 Plus.

A new piece of equipment is improving how physical therapy patients with a paralysis walk at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.  Thirty-six-year-old Sara Scott is learning how to walk again after a stroke a year and a half ago.

"I have a great physical therapist who has helped me and helped me walk by myself," says Scott.

Her physical therapist is Heather Mehlhaff with Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.  She also has a little help from a therapy device called the Bioness L300 Plus.  She uses it twice a week for two hours a day during her physical therapy sessions at Mercy.

"It feels like it wakes my leg up  and essentially, in a way, it does," says Scott.

It works by sending an electrical pulse to the nerve and muscles in the thigh to help her walk, so her thigh, ankle, and foot are all working together.

"It stimulates muscles at the right time and it gives them strength, and it gives them feedback to their brain so that they know that the brain senses when the muscles should be kicking on," says Mehlhaff.

There are three parts to the system that communicate with each other wirelessly. They sense the changes in walking speed and terrain  and adapt.

"The device is helping in a lot of ways," says Mehlhaff.  "It's helping with her muscle tone so that her muscles aren't so tight so that she can use them better to help strengthen her muscles to make her walking more efficient and more symmetrical so that it looks more normal and so she uses less energy to get from place to place."

Scott has already made progress in the few months she's been using it.

"It does do really well for me," says Scott.

Scott hopes with the help of the Bioness, she'll be able to eventually ditch her brace and walk on her own.

"It allows me to walk without my brace on and normally I wouldn't be able to do without the Bioness so it does help me," says Scott.

The Bioness L300 Plus is also used on patients with Multiple Sclerosis, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.

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