Wireless Walking signal/feedback stimulator

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 17:00.
 ness walking computer image jeff buster
Mygood friend Daniele has had to put up with multiple sclerosis for years.   She has kept positive spirits  through it all, but found her ability to walk was being curtailed more and more.  One leg in particular just would not respond to her desire to walk.
When I met Daniele a few years ago she was using a walker.   Then when I met her last year she was walking without the walker.  
During socializing over a meal I learned that Daniele was in the first month of using a wireless computerized device (the foot pad sensor and calf stimutor are in the image above) – which allows a cell phone sized computer hanging around her neck to “memorize” her gait, and then send electrical shocks to her calf – to prod her calf muscles to react.
What a great idea!
Let me try it? I asked.   What does the shock feel like, anyway?  
 I strapped on the shock device around my calf.   I couldn’t feel anything.   So my friend turned up the voltage.   Still couldn’t feel anything.  Up again, and zing!  Not as sharp as holding onto a spark plug wire, but still pretty acute zap.  I can see why the muscle reacts.
There are three components to the device.   A pad which goes inside your shoe which feels the pressure on your heel or the sole of your foot, the shock device strapped around your calf, and a wireless computer which communicates with both devices and allows the user to increase or decrease the shock voltage and rate to match the muscle stimulation of the prodded leg to the un-prodded leg.  
The device is manufactured by Israel based NESS and is explained :
“The sensor in the shoe identifies the walking stage of the paralyzed foot. It then transmits a wireless signal to a microprocessor attached underneath the knee. The NESS L300 system releases a suitable and perfectly-timed electronic pulse to the nerves and muscles that activate the paralyzed foot so as to facilitate the user's next step. The electronic stimulus replaces the nerve signal that would otherwise have arrived from the brain.”
If readers have experience with this device, or similar computer operated devices intended to help us ambulate, please share them.


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