St. Luke's has new tool to help individuals with paralysis

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation award funded hospital's new addition

Published: March 21 2014 | 2:30 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:58 am in

UnityPoint -St. Luke’s Hospital has a new tool to help individuals with paralysis be more independent.

The hospital's rehabilitation department now has a mobile arm support to help patients with paralysis build their upper body strength. This will help them complete tasks they may not be able to perform such as eating or using their wheelchair.

"Their strength increases and they become more functional," said Barb West, an occupational therapist at the hospital. "It helps them be able to brush their teeth, eat, improve their handwriting."

West said the device can be attached to table tops or wheelchairs to provide support. The hospital plans to work with patients in its inpatient rehabilitation unit.

The mobile arm support kit will also be used to evaluate whether it would be beneficial for a patient to obtain their own personal mobile arm support unit for home use, according to a press release.

"It gives them the option to be more independent," West said. "These are people who depend on everyone else — for dressing or bathing — and this gives them one more tool."

Therapists are in the process of preparing it for use with patients within the next few of weeks, and the department plans to work with 10 to 15 patients this year, said Sarah Corizzo, a spokeswoman for the hospital.

St. Luke’s Foundation received $2,020 from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, an organization dedicated to curing spinal cord injury and improving care for people living with paralysis, was used to purchase the mobile arm support.

The foundation awarded $500,000 in quality of life grants to 102 nonprofit organizations, which includes St. Luke’s.

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