Portable video device helps stroke patients recover mobility

Tina Orkin had a stroke two years ago and even though she still doesn't quite move the way she used to, she's proud of the progress she's made.

"I couldn't sit up, I couldn't walk, I was way worse," Orkin said.

Orkin still goes to weekly physical therapy and she's always on the lookout for any new products that might help in recovery.

She recently found FitMi, a portable video game of sorts that helps patients work through their exercises.

"This technology is specifically adapted for individuals that are trying to recover after neurological injury," Flint Rehab President Nizan Friedman said.

Flint Rehab created the game with the help of neurologists, therapists and patients.

According to Friedman, insurance often limits the allotment a patient has for physical therapy, and that's a growing issue.

"The amount of rehabilitation kind of diminished significantly after just two weeks," Friedman said. "After that, depending on your insurance, you're going to get a few months of therapy. But that therapy is very limited."

It's then up to patients to do the exercises on their own, often with the help of an exercise sheet. It can require thousands of repetitions to make progress, but those repetitions are important.

Repeated motion helps the brain understand the movement pattern, which is called neuroplasticity.

"After you have a stroke, a part of your brain that is responsible for movement dies," Friedman said. "The incredible part of the brain is its ability to reorganize to link the parts that are responsible for movement to new parts of the brain. That will only happen with repetitive movement."

FitMi displays a video showing the movement along with illustrations while the patient is performing each move, counting the repetitions and accuracy.

All of that ensures a higher level of movement and greater success for recovery.

The $300 device provides a lifetime of exercises and instruction for portable devices.
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