For more than 10 years, German neuroscientists and biologists have been developing a meanwhile patented glove for stroke patients which triggers learning processes in the brain with electrical stimulation patterns and thus supplements the standard rehabilitation treatments with a passive method.
By invisible wires the glove applies controllable electrical stimulation patterns onto the fingertips to activate the brain. The nerves are stimulated - the brain learns. Finally, after the stroke it is an essential goal to revive or at least to improve lost sensorimotor functions. At the Institute of Neuroinformatics at the Ruhr University of Bochum PD Dr. Hubert Dinse has lifted this glove together with Prof. Dr. Martin Tegenthoff (Neurological Clinic of the University Hospital Bergmannsheil in Bochum) and other colleagues of complementary disciplines from a fundamental research topic. "At that time it was to investigate learning processes of the brain. As tests showed that a special electrical stimulation really creates neuroplasticity in the brain, we wanted to go one step further and transferred the idea to patients with impairment." Between the first attempt and the fingertips-stimulating tipstim glove lays a full decade. In that time there were numerous supporting studies and studies, e.g. at the Stroke Center in Texas, the rehabilitation hospital in Meerbusch and a relatively large randomized, placebo-controlled study in Hagen-Ambrock (Rankin-scale 0-3, a follow-up study up to Rankin-scale 5 is in the course of preparation). Even key media such as the “Science”, “PNAS” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) and the “Neuron” already reported about the work.
In fact, there is still no comparable product on the world market so far. Of course there are functional electrical stimulation methods that combine stimulation impulses with a directed movement. But what is new about tipstim is the type of stimulation and thus the stimulation parameters themselves, adds Prof. Dr. Joachim Liepert, medical director of the neurological rehabilitation center at the Schmieder-clinic in Allensbach: "I consider this stimulation technique, i. e. the stimulus sequence and the evidence that these stimulation frequencies cause plastic changes in the brain and therefore long-term potentiation-like effects, for potentially more effective and more profitable than traditional electrical stimulation methods." Liepert, too, plans a further study starting in January in the Allenbrock-clinics where severely affected patients, who usually have less therapeutic alternatives, are treated.
Treat while walking
tipstim was first officially unveiled 2014 at the German Neurologist Congress and at the Annual Congress of the German Society for Neurological Rehabilitation and since then gains considerable attention. No wonder, the classic rehabilitation measures as swallowing- and ergo-therapy and logo- and physio-therapy require an active and physically quite demanding collaboration of patients. In contrast, stimulation with tipstim is passive, painless, without side effects and can easily be done at home and even while walking. 7 days a week. 60 minutes a day. That's enough. Only that a (professional) public has to become aware of it, and at this point the medical technology company BOSANA from the North-Rhine Westphalian Dorsten comes into play. Founded in 1999, BOSANA has about 20 incontinence and pain products marketed in recent years, of which about 15,000 therapy systems are in permanent nationwide use. So this amounts to a total of around 400,000 patient-centered homecare supply cases so far. BOSANA is thus an established company that is complementing its product portfolio with tipstim. "We have been tracking this issue for about 7 years and evolved from the basic medical approach, we now have finally created a user-friendly product - especially in terms of functionality, handling and, not least, optics," explains owner Oliver Bona.
Tailor-made suit for the hand
In recent years BOSANA developed around 20 tipstim glove prototypes, which have been optimized with among others the Textile Research Institute Thuringia-Vogtland eV TITV and stroke patients. In fact, both, atonic and spastic hands of any size must be able to slide in the biocompatible glove, and conductor tracks must be woven elaborately inside the glove. So happened. tipstim is now in a semi-automatic production ready for sale and will be available as from middle of 2015.
BOSANA Medizintechnik GmbH, Kappusstiege 13, 46282 Dorsten, Germany
Oliver Bona (CEO) - Phone: +49-2362-99962-0 - www.bosana.de
Dr. Hubert Dinse (private lecturer) - Neural Plasticity Lab,
Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
Phone: +49 -234-32-25565 - www.neuralplasticitylab.de
Prof. Dr. med. Joachim Liepert, Kliniken Schmieder Allensbach, Medical Director Neurorehabilitation,
Zum Tafelholz 8, 78476 Allensbach, Germany
Phone: +49-7533-808-1236 - www.kliniken-schmieder.de/kliniken-und-standorte/allensbach.html