Mike Jansen, resident of Pella, had a stroke in February at the age of 44. “The doctors said it was caused by an AVM, which is a small cluster of arteries and veins in the brain creating an abnormal connection between the two. It had probably been there since birth. Unfortunately, the cluster broke and I had a stroke. They took me to Iowa City and diagnosed the problem, and later I went to the Mayo Clinic to have the cluster removed with brain surgery, but thankfully the area had already closed up,” said Mike.
Mike has been through a lot of rehabilitation since his stroke, first as an inpatient and now as an outpatient at Pella Regional Health Center. He does occupational therapy to use his hands more fully, speech therapy for cognitive reasoning and physical therapy for strength, balance and walking.
The occupational and physical therapists at Pella Regional have recently started using a new rehabilitation system offered by Bioness Inc. The tools help patients regain function of their leg or hand due to stroke, multiple sclerosis, or other central nervous system disorders. As he was working through his therapy with appointments on a regular basis, a staff member suggested the new system to him, thinking Mike would be a good candidate.
“The main goal of these tools is to increase function for patients. We have about 8 – 12 patients working with the system at this point and we’ve been pleased with the results so far,” said Zach Kanis, DPT, MHA, manager of inpatient rehabilitation at Pella Regional. “The technology delivers programmed, low-level electrical stimulation to activate nerves and muscles. Basically, it helps the brain reconnect with the affected body part.”
Mike started his physical therapy by working on things like moving from a sit to a stand position and balance, then walking with a cane. “My foot is stronger and more flexible now,” said Mike.
The most successful part of using these tools for Mike has been with the hand rehabilitation system. “My arm and hand were unusable when I started. Now my arm function has caught up to the progress I’ve made with my leg and my shoulder doesn’t hurt anymore,” said Mike.
The pain is something that Mike is still working to control with his primary care provider, Dr. Doug Kanis, internal medicine physician with Pella Medical Clinic. He has appointments with Dr. Kanis every 6 – 8 weeks to work on pain control and monitor his ongoing health.
When asked about how long he expected to be rehabilitating from his stroke, Mike responded that he believed this would be a lifelong journey. “I’ve done a lot of research about the recovery process following a stroke. My understanding is that you get most of the function that you will get back within the first 6 months to a year following the event and that seems to be the case with me. It is small gains over weeks and months now instead of gains each day.”