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Innovative device could help stroke survivors

A new wearable device delivering electrical pulses to the arm, to help stroke survivors overcome abnormal stiffness in the arm (a major barrier to recovery), is to be developed by researchers from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Around a third of stroke survivors experience excessive muscle stiffness affecting an arm, a tiring, painful and disabling consequence of their condition which limits their ability to do usual day-to-day tasks and can lead to permanent rigidity as muscles become resistant to stretching.

The new Sheffield Adaptative Patterned Electrical Stimulation (SHAPES) device, which works like a TENS machine but is far more advanced, is to be built and tested thanks to £1.2m grant award from the National Institute for Health Research’s ‘Invention for Innovation’ programme. The new device builds on the expertise in electrical stimulation research of the clinical engineering team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. 

Through a combination of electronic design and programming, the technology is able to deliver continuous moving patterns of tiny electrical pulses to the arm to multiple areas at any given time. The intensity, timings and combinations of pulse delivery can also be programmed to be automatically adjusted. Previous research suggests that this variability in sensations is important in improving recovery from the muscle stiffness caused by stroke.  

The technology will be tested on patients, recruited between two to sixteen weeks post-stroke, in a clinical trial later in the year. It is hoped that the technology will improve rehabilitative outcomes for stroke patients at an optimal point in their recovery and will be cost-effective for the NHS to use. 

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to work in partnership with the NIHR Devices for Dignity MedTech Co-operative, University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research, Coventry University, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Medipex during the three-year study.

Dr. Siva Nair, consultant neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and lead for the clinical trial, said: “Our device is a significant technological advancement in the field of therapeutic electrical stimulators. Muscle stiffness in the arm is a major barrier to rehabilitation after stroke, so we are really pleased that we have received funding to test this innovative form of treatment. If our study is successful it will lead to a novel therapy for the rehabilitation of muscle stiffness after stroke.

"The technology also has the potential to be useful in the treatment of muscle stiffness in several other diseases of the brain and spinal cord, such as head injury and multiple sclerosis which could offer renewed hope to thousands of patients living with the consequences of debilitating neurological conditions.”

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Upcoming Events

BSG LIVE 22

ICC, Birmingham
20th – 23rd June 2022

EBME Expo 2022

Coventry Building Society Arena, Phoenix Way, Rowleys Green, Coventry CV6 6GE
28th - 29th June

Infection 360: What's trending in infection prevention & control

Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham
27-28 September 2022

IP2022 IS COMING TO BOURNEMOUTH IN OCTOBER 2022

Bournemouth
17-19 October 2022

UKHCA Conference: Listen Up

Pendulum Hotel and Manchester Conference Centre, Manchester
3rd November 2022

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Dusseldorf Germany
14th November - 17th November

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

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