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Video: Good Samaritan innovations featured on Discovery Channel

Posted on Jan. 20, 2013 ( comments)

A TV program that aired last week on The Discovery Channel highlighted the innovative work at the Children's Therapy Unit at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, Wash. 

(Watch video below.)

"Health Heroes" focused on an advanced technology called Surface Electromyography (SEMG) that lets therapists and physicians monitor muscle activity to improve treatment decisions for their patients. At Good Samaritan, the technology has opened the doors to develop new knowledge and improve outcomes for neurologically impaired individuals.

"With surface EMG, we can put sensors on the top of the skin and record the patterns of how the brain is activating the muscles," said Glenn Kasman, PT, SEMG author, and President of MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital.

David G. Embrey, Ph.D, PT, Research Program Coordinator at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital's Children's Therapy Unit, explained his practical applications of the advanced technology in his treatment of children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders. One video clip showed a young toddler with cerebral palsy who struggled to walk. Now, 10-years later, the boy is able to run, thanks to clinical decisions and interventions based on SEMG data.

Dr. Embrey has already received on U.S. patent for a device that stimulates the muscles that lift the foot and drive the foot forward while walking. The medical breakthrough, called a Gait MyoElectric Stimulator, shows promise treating patients with stroke, children with cerebral palsy and people with multiple sclerosis.

Embrey’s research has also been published in the prestigious Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. (Read the study.)

In addition to helping children, the SEMG technology also is used for adults with stroke or multiple sclerosis.

"In order to properly diagnose and treat motor disorders, it's important to gather as much information as you can, and that's where the neuroscience comes into it," said Robert Cooper, MD, pediatric physiatrist at MultiCare Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Center in Tacoma. "SEMG enables therapists to go inside the body and learn how the brain talks to the muscles. In turn, this allows therapists and doctors to see how the muscles work to achieve functional movement and accomplish specific tasks.

"If you decide you want to move your leg, your thought becomes an electric impulse from the brain, travels through the spinal cord, it goes to the peripheral nerve, which joins to the muscle. And it's that wave of electrical activity that makes the muscle contract. So using electromyography, or EMG, you can tap into that signal and figure out how the muscle is firing."

For information on the Research Program, call the Movement Lab at 253-697-5255, or contact David G. Embrey, PT, PhD at [email protected] or Brenna Brandsma, PT, DPT, PCS at [email protected].

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