Rehab Goes High-Tech

Just a few years ago, helping a stroke patient regain the ability to swallow was unheard of. It's just one way technology has taken rehabilitation to new heights.

Leslie Cunningham of Kansas Rehabilitation Hospital says technology has made a huge difference in the everyday living skills patients are able to develop. She says advances in medicine are now leading to advances in helping patients regain skills lost or keep them from further deteriorating.

Vital stim therapy, for example, uses electronic stimulation to help those whose throat muscles are weak from a stroke or a disease, like Parkinsons or ALS, swallow. In the past, they might have needed a feeding tube.

Computer technology has led to devices like the Autoambulator. In it, a patient's weight is supported and robotic arms move their legs. It helps them learn how to walk without fear of fatiguing or injuring a therapist.

It's not all high-tech. Some tools, like weighted utensils, just took a new way of thinking. Cunningham says a person with full abilities might find it cumbersome to use a weighted fork, but for a person with Parkinsons, whose hand is shaking as he tries to lift the fork to his mouth, the extra weight can steady the hand.

The attention to what rehab can do has grown out of research into how the brain functions. Cunninghams says the medical community now understands that the brain can and does try to repair itself, or use different networks to accomplish the same task.

The public is invited to learn more about advances in rehab at the first "Neuro-symposium." It's from 10 am to 1 pm Saturday at Kansas Rehabilitation Hospital, 1504 SW 8th Avenue in Topeka. The event focuses on Parkinson’s, brain injury, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and stroke. Speakers are as follows:

Breakthroughs in MS
Martha Badger, RN, BSN
Ms Badger is a certified IOMSN nurse in Multiple Sclerosis. As a neurological nurse with Topeka Neurology, Martha Badger facilitates the Kansas Rehabilitation Hospital MS Wellness Clinic. Member
of the National Organization for Neuroscience Nursing.

Emerging Trends for Stroke - What’s the Evidence?
Barbara M.Quaney, PT, Ph.D.
Dr. Quaney has her Ph.D. in Exercise Science, Motor Control and Neuroscience. She is a Research Fellow at Landon Center on Aging, Univ. of Kansas Med. Center and serves as adjunct faculty for KU Neurology and Physical Therapy Departments

Applying Technology in the Rehabilitation of Neurological Disorders
Dale Garrett, MD, MPH
Dr. Garrett is the Medical Director of Stormont Vail WorkCare. A Kansas native, Dr. Garrett earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas, completing both surgical and occupational medicine
residencies, and a Master’s degree in Public Health.

The Treatment of Parkinson’s - Past, Present, and Future
Amy Parsons, BSN
Ms. Parsons is the Research Coordinator and Nurse Clinician for the Movement Disorder Center at University of Kansas Medical Center working closely with Dr. Pahwa. She also oversees the Ask-A-Nurse program for the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Spinal Cord Injury in the New Millineum
Liz Zayat, OTR/L
Ms. Zayat is clinical instructor and academic coordinator for the Rockhurst University Occupational Therapy program. She has presented throughout the US on neurological rehabilitation and spinal injury prevention. Her practice and research interests include best practice interventions for neurological recovery and measuring
cognitive function with real-world assessments.

Brain Injury Rehab—Changing the Model
Janet Williams, MSW. Ph.D.
Dr. Williams is the founder and owner of communityworks inc, a nationally recognized program which provides support and services for
brain injured individuals in their home. She is author of “Head Injury: A Family Matter.”


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