Worldwide, about 15 million people each year have a stroke, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Among stroke victims, approximately one-third die and one-third are permanently disabled. Hemiplegia and hemiparesis, respectively paralysis or weakness on one side of the body, are common symptoms of stroke survivors. The innovation Institute‘s Newport Beach, California-based Innovation Lab health care incubator and Washington state’s MultiCare Health System‘s MultiCare Institute for Research and Innovation recently announced the Gait MyoElectric Stimulator (GMES). GMES is an electrical stimulation wearable designed to help patients with neuromuscular conditions improve their ability to walk. In addition to strokes, other conditions that can potentially benefit using the GMES include patients with cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.

Traditional functional electric stimulation (FES) devices to treat hemiplegia stimulate lifting the foot only. When a patient wraps the GMES wearable around the affected lower leg, the wearable stimulates the opposing leg muscles for plantar flexion and dorsiflexion, alternately extending and contracting the foot. The goal is to help patients regain their ability to walk independently. The GMES wearable also incorporates motion sensors to improve gait and stability.

Innovation Lab is currently working with MultiCare to finish development and commercialize the GMES wearable. The team is also continuing to improve the device’s ease of use and comfort. Further steps include partnering with a healthcare industry entity to scale up manufacturing, sales, and distribution.