Drop foot gets a lift, thanks to Israeli invention

An Israeli-developed device for people with paralyzed feet has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

foot 88 (photo credit: )
foot 88
(photo credit: )
An Israeli-developed and manufactured wireless, computer-controlled device that enables safe walking for people with a foot paralyzed due to stroke, brain injury, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. The heart of the system, developed by NESS of Ra'anana, is a sensor in the shoe which 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. The new device can be installed by the patient on his/her own, swiftly and easily. It is the second device developed by NESS for activating paralyzed limbs, and represents one more step toward realizing the company's vision of a complete, synchronized system for activating paralyzed limbs. The company says its device is an important achievement, considering the differences between one person and another in relation to the location of the nerves that stimulate the foot. The electrodes must furthermore maintain position throughout the period during which the device is in use. In addition, they must be re-located above those specific nerves each time the patient puts on the device. A further distinction is the employment of wireless transmission, considered the safest and most advanced of its type in the world. Moshe Tzimerman, chief financial officer of NESS's main investor, Teuza Venture Capital Fund Group, commented: "I have always believed in the capabilities of the NESS team. They are world-class professionals who have yet again managed to achieve the inconceivable, and have developed a device which will change the lives of millions." Amit Dar, head of R& D at NESS, added: "The objective difficulties of the structure of the human leg posed a nearly impossible challenge for our researchers and developers, but the result is a small, elegant and efficient instrument that fits any leg and enables a paralyzed person to independently install it each morning." Analysts estimate that the potential market for the NESS L300 is hundreds of thousands annually in the Western world. MS MORE COMMON IN CHRISTIAN THAN MUSLIM ARABS For some reason, multiple sclerosis - the debilitating neurological disease that usually begins in young adults - is much more common among Christian Arabs than among Muslim ones. Prof. Ariel Miller and colleagues at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Carmel Medical Center in Haifa recently published this in the journal Neurology. They found 35 cases of MS per 100,000 Christian Arabs, compared to 14 in the Muslim population, 10 among Beduin and 17 among the Druse. A genetic analysis is being carried out, using healthy Arabs as a control group, to try to explain the differences. "This study is likely to have important implications for understanding the etiology of the disease, identifying prognostic measures in the Arab Israeli population and contributing to the quality of life of MS patients," said Miller. It may also lead to selecting a specific treatment according to the characteristics of the disease by "personalized" medicine.