Stroke patients turn to robots to recover at home during pandemic

In late March, Maddi Niebanck passed the three-year mark since having a stroke.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has made in-person therapy difficult, the recovery process doesn’t stop.

“I feel very fortunate that when I had my stroke it was three years ago," Niebanck said."I can’t even imagine if someone is having a stroke now how hard it must be to try to manage therapy."

Courtesy Maddi Niebanck

To make sure she wouldn’t lose the progress she’s made, Niebanck began using an at-home robotic arm. 

Motus Nova is an Atlanta-based company that provides healthcare robotics to more than 170 clinics and hospitals across the U.S.

The company has seen an increase in shipments to patients’ homes since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s like an extension of the physical therapists’ hands," said Motus Nova founder David Wu. “The rehab that physical therapists are able to deliver in a hospital setting, we tried to replicate that in a home setting."

Patients use the robotic arm while playing virtual games. The goal is to increase motion in the wrist and arm, allowing the patients to get the therapy they need at home.

Courtesy Motus Nova

“It’s extremely important for that we do what we can so we don’t let this pandemic affect not just life as we know it but affect how stroke survivors quality of life is after that injury," Wu said.

Niebanck has come a long way since her stroke in 2017. She even published a book in April about her recovery process. 

Courtesy Maddi Niebanck

“I decided to focus on the positives," Niebanck said. "OK, maybe I can't write my name the same way that I used to, but I'm going to work hard at it and find another way to do it."