Depending on the location and the severity of a stroke, occupational therapists have typically been able to provide treatment that has improved a clients’ shoulder and elbow movements, however, the hand has presented more of a challenge. When a client presents with a tight fisted hand, therapists have had limited treatment options and success with making the hand more functional – until now.
With the SaeboFlex, a client can grasp and release objects for the first time since their stroke, providing them with new hope for improved function in their arm. The device and treatment makes functional tasks, such as dressing and feeding oneself possible.
The SaeboFlex is a mechanical, dynamic hand orthosis that is utilized to enable a person to incorporate their involved hand into grasp and release activities. It works based on a spring release system that positions the hand in the open, extended position. During therapy, the client then utilizes his or her increased muscle tone to squeeze a ball. Once the client relaxes, the springs move the fingers back into an extended position, allowing the client to drop the ball in a designated location. The client then reaches for the next ball and completes high repetitions of grasp and release activities.
This high repetition helps to improve the strength throughout the arm and generates more cortical (brain) involvement. Over the course of therapy, the client learns to control the increased muscle tone in their hand so they can regain functional use of their involved hand. Clients are encouraged to use the device at home, reinforcing their therapy.
A unique and valuable aspect of SaeboFlex treatment is that it can help individuals who are up to 20 years post injury. The length of time since the onset of injury does not matter, as long as the client meets certain criteria. The most appropriate clients are those who are unable to open their hand, but have some shoulder and elbow movement. The device is also helpful for individuals who have had a traumatic brain injury or other neurological condition. The device is primarily used on an outpatient basis.