Device Helps Patients Get a Grip

A strange-looking device is helping some people get back to normal.

It's called the "Saebo Flex," and it's giving a hand to people who have trouble using their hands.

Since suffering a stroke, Chuck Schram can merely roll a ball around on a table with his knuckles. His left hand won't open and close to grasp objects. With the Saebo Flex, he's working on regaining his grasp.

Heather Helton, an occupational therapist at Kansas Rehab Hospital, says the Saebo Flex will hold a persons hand and fingers open in extention. The person using it will use the strength that they have to flex their fingers to grab an object, then the spring also helps pull the hand back to extension to let go of the object.

Patients typically work 45 minutes, twice a day, three times a week grasping, placing and pulling items. Even though it's aimed at regaining use of the hand, Helton is seeing other benefits. She says patients are able to raise their arm more and gain more range of motion in the shoulder.

As patients progress, more tension is added to the Saebo Flex, so the patient's hand does more of the work - working to hopefully one day be back full strength.

"We want to get that independence back," Helton says.

Each device is custom made to fit each patient. Helton says, before this, electrical stimulation was used and, while it made some gains for the shoulder and wrist, it had little effect on the hands.


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