RALEIGH – Four years after a motorcycle accident left him a quadriplegic, Whiskey Kitchen co-owner Michael Thor has struggled with even basic tasks – like touching his face or feeding himself. But that could all change today.
Around 11am, the 37-year-old is set to test drive a robotic arm manufactured by the medical robotics company Myomo at NextStep Raleigh, the paralysis recovery center established by his mother, Karen Thor. She opened the space with her own personal savings after his accident because a lack of other options for rehabilitation in town.
“[The arm] should be a game changer for me,” Thor said back in November when he was fitted for the arm by two Myomo reps who flew in from out of state to make a fiber glass cast of his arm.
That was then sent to the company’s fabrication facility in Ohio where it was custom made to Michael’s exact measurements.
The Massachusetts-based startup says its powered brace, the MyoPro, is the only robotics device currently on the market that can restore mobility for people suffering from neurological disorders or upper-body paralysis.
How it works
MyoPro weighs about four pounds and is a wearable device designed to help restore function to arms and hands paralyzed or weakened by conditions such as CVA stroke, brachial plexus injury, cerebral palsy, or other neurological or neuromuscular disease or injury.
MyoPro works by reading the faint nerve signals, also known as EMG signals, from the surface of the skin without the need for implants or surgery, which activates small motors to move the arm and hand as the user intends.
The user wearing the brace is completely controlling their own hand and arm with the brace amplifying their weak muscle signal to help move the limb.
Launched in 2015, around 700 people around the country have received the arm to date.