New Assistive Technology Restores Independence to Those Living with Neuromuscular Weakness

Everyday activities are now possible for people with Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis and Spinal Cord Injury

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than a million people in the U.S. rely on others to complete simple tasks such as brushing teeth, eating, and opening doors, because of neuromuscular disorders caused by Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury, and other conditions. Now many of these people will be able to perform these everyday activities themselves with the use of a new assistive technology product, the Abilitech™ Assist, designed to help people live more independently.

Medical device company Abilitech™ Medical is launching the Assist, which facilitates independent control of the arms by supporting and assisting both the shoulder and elbow for people with minimal strength. Software customizes the spring tension to lift objects such as a fork, phone, or water bottle, supporting items that weigh up to 12 ounces.

Those living with the limitations of upper-arm weakness and their caregivers can visit the Abilitech Medical website to schedule a confidential assessment to learn if the device can increase their independence and be referred to an Abilitech-trained clinic for a device fitting.

Abilitech assistive devices are designed to bring life-changing benefits to people with arm weakness:

  • Physical independence – Increases independence by assisting with activities such as eating, drinking, and using a computer.
  • Social independence – Increases the ability to more fully engage with others and participate in social events.
  • Economic benefits – May help decrease the reliance on caregivers and avoid or delay the need for a skilled nursing home — both services can be extremely expensive and are challenged by shrinking employee pools. Personal care assistants cost an average of $28,000 per year and assisted living costs can be up to $250,000 per year. In some cases, people using the Assist may even be able to return to work or stay in the workforce longer.

The Assist is the first in Abilitech’s future suite of products, which includes a powered handgrip device and a fully robotic voice-controlled arm-hand combination assistive device.

“We’ve worked with leading clinicians across the U.S.,” said Angie Conley, who founded Abilitech Medical in 2016 after time at Medtronic. “Equally as important, every week we work with people, their clinicians, and caregivers to get user feedback. This includes input from an engineer on our team who lives with a spinal cord injury.” Direct patient experience has led to optimal comfort, style, and weight of the device.

Abilitech is conducting clinical trials for the Assist at the University of Minnesota and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Other organizations partnering with Abilitech to bring the product to market include Houston Methodist, Texas Children’s Hospital, HealthPartners, and Allina Health Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.

“We’ve accumulated so many compelling stories that illustrate the patient need,” said Conley, who cites Dr. Hanry Samir, a cardiac anesthesiologist and critical care intensivist who lost his ability to work and perform simple functions after a stroke. Dr. Samir shared important feedback for the device.

“My dream is to be able to use my arm again, make things easier for my wife, and go back to the profession I love and live for,” said Samir.

About Abilitech Medical
Abilitech Medical brings innovative solutions to market that allow people living with upper-limb neuromuscular conditions that prevent their arms to function independently. The company’s first product, the Abilitech Assist, is a one-of-a-kind powered orthotic device that provides functional assistance and support to both the elbow and the shoulder, and will improve the lives of people in the U.S. affected by neuromuscular weakness.


Beth LaBreche

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