talks with FES pioneer Dr. Byron Marsolais.
results from impaired or severed communication between the
brain and the body. But just because the brain can't control
the body, doesn't mean the body is no longer capable of taking
direction. This is the concept behind FES, or Functional Electrical
Stimulation, in which electrodes implanted in the body stimulate
the muscles, allowing some degree of movement.
" Nerves of Steel," Alan revisits Dr.
Byron Marsolais and his colleagues at the Cleveland VA
Hospital and the Cleveland Metro Health Center. Twenty years
ago, Marsolais pioneered the first experimental FES system.
Now growing numbers of patients are benefitting from the program.
Alan meets Jen Penko, who uses an implanted FES system, called
"standing transfer." Standing is a major accomplishment for
Jen, paralyzed in a 1997 snowboarding accident. Using the
system, she can reach objects on a high shelf, get out of
her chair and into a car or onto a sofa. At the same time
she's putting weight on her leg muscles and bones, preventing
atrophy and osteoporosis. And of course, with FES she can
talk with people like Alan eye to eye.
Thanks to FES, Jim Jatich can grasp with his paralyzed
also catches up with veteran volunteer experimental subject
Jim Jatich, who uses FES to open and close his once-paralyzed
hand. Says Jim, "You know it just changes people's lives.
And that's the kick I get out of it, to see how people change."
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