25 July 2008

Device Helps MS Patient Float Like A Butterfly

ATLANTA -- Two years after her multiple sclerosis make walking exhausting for her, Tiffany Vinson has found something that has given her back her mobility.
Vinson didn't know what to think two years ago when she began to need help walking the stairs. She learned she had multiple sclerosis, a disease of the nervous system that, in Tiffany's case, made walking a struggle.
Today, Tiffany Vinson is moving forward, and anxious to show the way to others. This is the story of a lady, and her family, and a new device, and a tattoo.
Even after Tiffany Vinson was told she had multiple sclerosis she was all about moving forward.
"What's the next step?" Tiffany wondered. "I didn't have a moment where I was depressed or anything of that nature. It's just like, 'Okay, how do I live? How do I get it moving, so that I can provide for my two boys and my husband?' "
She investigated a device made by Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics called the Walk Aide.
"For a person with MS, say," said Roger Feldman of Hanger Prosthetics. "The brain is not sending the correct signal to the muscle and nerve to function correctly. And this device takes the place of the brain."
The device helps people who've had strokes, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. It's being used by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans -- but it is not covered by insurance.
Tiffany's MS had partially paralyzed her left foot. With this device, she could walk normally.
To make sure the Walk Aide works best for the individual patient, first that patient takes a test walk and his or her gait is recorded on the device. It's then uploaded to a computer where clinicians tweak it and send it back to that device so that it'll work the most efficiently for that individual patient.
Tiffany is moving forward.
"It's been amazing" she said. "It's been God's greatest gift to me. I have been able to walk and even make a turn sometimes."
Now about the tattoo. Tiffany put it there to cover a bad burn she got as a child. The butterfly has two dots -- exactly where the Walk Aide is supposed to be attached.

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