AMES Technology, a spinoff company of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), won FDA clearance for its rehabilitation device designed for people suffering from post-stroke complications and partial injuries to the spinal cord. The AMES device, an acronym for “assisted movement with enhanced sensation”, runs a patient through repetitive movements of the arm while vibrating muscles that are normally involved in that specific movement. Sensors also measure how much strength the patient manages to put into the movement and the robot adjusts its therapy along with patient performance. Real-time readings of patient input are displayed to improve motivation and help rehab specialists monitor progress.
By explicitly triggering muscle sensation while moving the affected limbs, it is believed that the technology helps the brain recreate new connections that replace broken ones affected by stroke or other neurological injury.
“Taking stroke as an example, if a person survives the initial injury, the probability is about 50 percent that he or she will never recover any functional use of the affected limb,” said Dr. Cordo, a professor in the OHSU Department of Biomedical Engineering and Chief Technology Officer for AMES. “Clinicians have few options for the most severely disabled people other than working around their disabilities. How many other types of medical conditions can you think of where we give up on curing the worst affected 50 percent of the affected population? We don’t think this is acceptable, so over the last 10 years, we’ve been working to come up with an alternative that is effective with the severely disabled, or at least able to bring them to the point that other therapies will be effective. The AMES rehabilitation device is the product of that decade of work.”
A series of clinical studies with the AMES Device were conducted at multiple sites across the United States, some with chronic and sub-acute stroke patients and some with chronic spinal cord injury victims. These studies have provided clinical evidence that the AMES approach improves movement and strength in people with injuries to the brain and spinal cord, in some cases restoring the ability to carry out independent activities that were previously unattainable. The studies included treating the arm, hand and the leg. Most of the participants who were enrolled in these studies were considered to be very disabled when they started AMES treatment.