St. David’s Medical Center physicians recently began implementing a Food and Drug Administration-approved neurostimulation device that stimulates the vagus nerve during rehabilitation therapy and daily activities.

The treatment is the first of its kind in Central Texas and intended for chronic stroke survivors who have been unable to regain arm and hand functions as a result of a stoke, according to a news release.

Zooming in

On March 20, the first neurostimulation device was implanted by Dhruve Jeevan, M.D., a pediatric and adult neurosurgeon at St. David’s HealthCare, according to the news release.

The impact of the new technology on patient outcomes is being overseen by Robert Lee, M.D., medical director of stroke and neurological recovery at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital.

“This procedure, coupled with rehabilitation therapy, enhances the release of neurotransmitters needed to help chronic stroke survivors regain arm and hand function necessary to perform everyday tasks and hobbies,” Lee said. “The chronic stroke survivors enrolled in early studies have shown a significant response rate to the treatment. St. David’s Medical Center is excited to serve this population of patients and offer this novel treatment.”

The procedure entails a small medical device being implanted under the skin in the upper left chest area. The rehabilitation therapy that follows the procedure can help chronic stroke survivors regain movement in their upper extremities, according to the news release.

The details

During physical therapy sessions, a therapist will use a wireless transmitter that communicates with software and signals the device to deliver a pulse to the vagus nerve while stroke survivors perform specific tasks. The task-specific therapy increases neural connections to improve upper limb function, according to the news release.