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New technology helping multiple sclerosis patients regain mobility

Posted Nov 18 2010 11:20am
DENVER -- Colorado has almost 10,000 people with multiple sclerosis, and that directly affects more than 72,000 of their family and friends.It’s a progressive disease, which eventually takes away a person's mobility.But promising new technology is giving some new hope at holding on to a normal life.FOX31 News met with Allison Spinnato, a mother and fourth grade teacher, at a Denver clinic where she was getting a final fit for a new device to give her life back from MS."When I was diagnosed at 19," Spinnato said, "I felt like well no one else is 19 who has MS."Despite her disease, which disrupts flow of information from the brain to the body, she's lived a normal life until recently."With my feet and feeling the numbness in my feet got worse," she said pointing at her legs.Soon she could no longer walk, without falling."Sometimes they were just little stumbles and other times they were really big falls," said her husband Brian Spinnato, "And they're pretty traumatic for her and for our daughter.""It's embarrassing to always be falling down and not being able to lift your foot up," said Allison.Multiple sclerosis strikes mostly younger women like Allison, and Colorado has one of the highest prevalence rates in the country.A revolutionary medical device called Walkaide now replaces the full length leg brace she was wearing.It stimulates her nerves with electrical current to make the muscles flex the foot, allowing her to walk."It's replacing the brain in the equation of how our muscles function," said Marleta Ouverson a prosthetics & orthotics practitioner at Hangar in Denver, "So essentially it's a brain in a box.""A lot of things I think people take for granted just taking a walk," said Allison.Now she can keep up with her two-year-old again and keep teaching."Those little pieces of life that you take for granted she's able to get some of those back now," said Brian."It's been a miracle really," said Allison, for a disease with no known cure.We talked to three doctors and therapists, who say this technology really is offering a better quality of life for some MS and brain injured patients.But it takes a doctor's diagnosis to determine who is a good candidate.

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