May 2022

FES Device Designed to Improve Gait

Innovation Lab, the Innovation Institute’s national healthcare incubator, and MultiCare Health System, a Washington state not-for-profit healthcare organization, announced the development of the Gait MyoElectric Stimulator (GMES), a functional electrical stimulation (FES) device that uses dual stimulator technology to help improve walking ability in patients with neuromuscular conditions such as stroke, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. Applied to the lower leg of patients with these conditions, GMES is an intuitive, wearable device for patients with hemiplegia or hemiparesis. GMES provides stimulation from multiple channels to opposing muscles, with that dual stimulation designed to improve post-stroke gait.

Current FES devices seek to treat only 1 symptom of hemiplegia: foot drop. However, simply lifting the foot does not smooth a patient’s halted gait, so a significant limp persists. GMES is different: It mimics normal walking function with dual stimulation—dorsiflexion and plantar flexion—plus motion sensors designed for gait and stability improvement. GMES shows potential to help patients relearn how to walk independently, without long-term dependence on the device. (Clinical data from two published studies is on file.)

The first-generation device was developed and tested in the clinic by David Embrey, PT, PhD, a physical therapist and founder of MultiCare’s Good Samaritan Children’s Therapy Unit’s Movement Laboratory; Gad Alon, PT, PhD, associate professor emeritus of physical therapy and rehabilitation science at the University of Maryland School of Medicine; and Jeffrey Stonestreet, retired senior electrical design engineer for the Boeing Company. Innovation Lab is currently working with Embrey and colleagues to build upon the first-generation device to improve the ease of use and comfort of the device, with the aim of partnering with an industry partner that can scale manufacturing, sales, and distribution of GMES to make it widely available to patients in need.

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