Breakthrough Technology Offers New Hope for Stroke Survivors Even Years After Stroke

Vivistim® Paired VNS™ System, named to TIME’s 2023 Best Inventions list, is changing the lives of stroke patients.

The FDA-approved Vivistim® Paired VNS™ System is offering new hope to stroke survivors – even years after they suffered a stroke. Vivistim is a first-of-its-kind breakthrough technology that uses vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) to improve a stroke survivor’s hand and arm function.

According to Dr. Ronald Benitez, a neurosurgeon with Atlantic Brain and Spine – and the first doctor in New Jersey to implant the system in a patient – positive outcomes have been reported from Vivistim users who are six months to 10 or more years post-stroke. Dr. Benitez performed the procedure at Overlook Medical Center.

“When combined with rehab therapy, Vivistim helps generate two to three times more hand and arm function than stand-alone therapy,” explains Dr. Benitez. “Now, even patients who suffered a stroke years ago can experience improved functional mobility during daily tasks like dressing, meal prep and doing laundry. This therapy is a game changer for stroke patients who have been living with moderate to severe upper arm impairment for years.”

How Vivistim Paired VNS Works

Many stroke patients stop seeing the return of mobility after the first year or so of recovery with traditional rehabilitation therapy alone. The Vivistim device – a small medical device implanted under the skin in the patient’s upper left chest area during an outpatient procedure – simultaneously pairs stroke therapy exercises with brain stimulation via the vagus nerve. This helps create and strengthen neural connections which improve upper limb function and increase the relevance of physical or occupational therapy.

“During in-clinic rehab therapy, a therapist uses a wireless transmitter to communicate with proprietary software that signals the Vivistim device,” Dr. Kyle Chapple, a stroke specialist at Atlantic Brain and Spine who is passionate about medical innovation, explains. “The device delivers a gentle pulse to the vagus nerve while the patient performs a specific task such as putting on a hat, brushing hair or cutting food.

“At home, the stroke survivor can swipe a magnet activator over the device to activate the system during daily activities and exercise,” Dr. Chapple continues. “The at-home Vivistim therapy in conjunction with the in-clinic rehabilitation helps stroke survivors get back to doing what matters most to them while enhancing their quality of life.”

The Ideal Candidate for Vivistim

Ischemic stroke survivors experiencing ongoing hand and arm impairment six months to 10 years post- stroke are ideal candidates if they:

Neurosurgeon Dr. Ronald Benitez (r.) was the first neurosurgeon to implant the Vivistim® Paired VNS™ System in a recovering stroke patient in New Jersey. Sean Sliger, Territory Manager at MicroTransponder, creator of this breakthrough technology, was by his side during the procedure.

  • Have moderate to severe upper extremity impairment
  • Have plateaued from previous ongoing rehabilitation
  • Maintain some active arm motor function, including in the wrist, thumb and at least two fingers
  • Demonstrate adequate expressive and receptive communication skills
  • Have the ability to follow two-step commands.

“If you or a loved one suffer from impaired upper mobility from a stroke – even years out from the episode – I encourage you to investigate Vivistim,” Dr. Benitez concludes. “This medical innovation is an incredible approach that can drastically improve one’s quality of life. And we’re not stopping here. While Vivistim is currently only FDA-approved for upper extremities, we hope it will be studied to help treat other problems associated with stroke, such as leg and speech impairments. This technology is truly taking neurological-stroke recovery to the next level.”

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