Tibion, Im-Able, look to help stroke patients

Medgadget this week profiles the Tibion's bionic leg, which has been redesigned to help stroke patients. The device is now indicated for use by rehabilitation centers to help a patient recover a proper walking gait. Software that controls the knee has been rewritten specifically to work for stroke rehab.

On its website, Tibion emphasizes the Bionic Leg is not a prosthesis or something a stroke patient would wear indefinitely. It is a robotic aid worn during therapy sessions over weeks or months, until the patient recovers their gait so they can walk without it.

As Xconomy reported last year, the leg is meant as a tool for physical therapy clinics. Patients wear the device for 15 minutes at a time, three times a week. And, even though only a few hundred patients have used it, improvements have been seen. Indeed, after just 12 sessions with the device, most patients studied have gained significant walking speed. The company raised Series A funding from Oakland, CA-based Claremont Creek Ventures in 2006, as well as a $3 million Series A extension last May, Xconomy reports.

Another company looking into helping stroke victims is New Zealand's Im-Able, which started up halfway through 2009, Geoff Todd, marketing director, recently told FierceMedicalDevices. He and company CEO Sunil Vather used their own money to help it get started and have since received funds from other investors.

One of the company's products is Able-X, a lightweight air mouse and handlebar together with a series of five computer exercises designed to help improve arm movements and cognitive skills. It is designed to help both children and adults affected by stroke, traumatic brain injury, balance disorders and coordination dysfunction.

As the New Zealand Herald noted last year, Able-X was the brainchild of Industrial Research engineer Marcus King. In a study of 14 post-acute stroke patients who were partially incapacitated, benefit from use of the device was apparent after 10 days, Todd told FMD. The company is working on getting the product to the market in the U.S., and is getting closer to gaining CE mark approval.

Another product offering the company has is its Able-Force kinetic hand-held dynamometer, which enables medical therapists to measure force and angle across the range of motion in patients' joints. The device was developed jointly by Industrial Research Limited and the Taiwanese Institute of Industrial Technology.

- see more from Medgadget
- check out the Xconomy story