According to WMC5, a research study out of Cleveland, OH, has been testing the impact of robotic exoskeletons on movement for patients with multiple sclerosis. For Kathy Miska, this is a life changer. The 56-year-old woman, for whom multiple sclerosis runs in the family, now feels that the robotic exoskeleton allows her more freedom.
Want to learn more about the entire study? Head over to the Cleveland Clinic website.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease that impacts communication between the body and the brain. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin sheaths, or the protective covering over neuronal nerve cells. Multiple sclerosis can be progressive (leading to total function loss) or relapsing and remitting (periods of time without symptoms).
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis include loss of coordination, balance issues, muscle weakness and numbness, and issues with speech, bladder control, and vision. Symptom onset is generally between ages 20 and 40. Learn more about multiple sclerosis.
Before Kathy Miska developed symptoms of multiple sclerosis, she watched her sister fight the disease. She saw her system lose muscle control and function. Now, Kathy understands because she, too, is grappling with multiple sclerosis.
For 20 years, Kathy’s condition has grown progressively worse. However, her 4 days a week at the Cleveland Clinic changed her outlook:
“I have balance, I have buoyancy.”
Kathy is part of the group that took part in the research study to learn the efficacy of the EksoGT robotic exoskeleton for patients with multiple sclerosis. According to the Cleveland Clinic:
“Powered exoskeletons are currently approved by the FDA to aid rehabilitations of patients with spinal cord injury and post-stroke hemiplegia. To our knowledge, there has been only one small study to date in the United States that has assessed the use of these devices in MS rehabilitation.”
Over an eight week period, Kathy visited the Cleveland Clinic three times a week for around a half-hour. She was fitted into an adjustable, battery-powered exoskeleton that consisted of metal braces with motors to help with balance and stability. While wearing the suit, Kathy and the other study participants walked up and down the hallways. Physical therapists helped to uphold patient safety.
The full study results will not be published until later in 2020. However, for patients like Kathy, this technology is already making a difference.