CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Jessica Peters has an extra step in her morning routine as she gets ready for work at the New England Dog Biscuit Shop in Salem.
“My robot arm is awesome,” said Peters, beaming.
Peters was recently fitted with a wearable robotic device that helps her move her right arm again.
Six years ago, at the age of 26, she was working as a real estate agent in Boston and planning her wedding when suddenly she suffered a stroke in the middle of the night.
Peters spent a month in a coma. When she awoke, her right arm and leg were paralyzed and she couldn’t speak.
“I used to… no talking, nothing and a wheel chair,” said Peters.
It has taken years of dedication to physical therapy and exercise to be able to walk and talk again.
She still has aphasia, a language impairment, and her right arm is still weak.
But, with this device, she can grip, stir and lift again.
This revolutionary technology was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the device was created at the Cambridge-based start-up, Myomo, which stands for my own motion.
“With this device we can pick up her trace signals and amplify that for her so that she can use that arm once again,” said Paul Gudonis, CEO of Myomo.
“When she thinks, ‘I want the elbow to bend,’ it bends. When she thinks, ‘I want the elbow to extend,’ it extends,” said Dr. Brandon Green, Chief Medical Officer of Myomo.
The devices can also help stroke survivors and patients with other neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and ALS.
“For some individuals who have not been able to use their arms for years this has been so important,” said Gudonis. “People are going back to work, to school, they’re living independently again with these devices.”
The arms also have a rehabilitative effect by helping to strengthen the muscle. It’s also helping Jessica’s speech improve.
“The fact that she’s working and getting out of the house so much means she’s talking more so her speech is also getting better,” said Dr. Green.
Through her own tenacity, Peters got back on her feet, got back to work by trading in real estate for biscuit baking, and eventually had her dream wedding.
But, this robotic arm is giving her an even brighter outlook and she hopes her story will inspire others to never give up.
“My life is changing,” said Peters. “I am hope.”