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Tampa General first in region to debut device for stroke patients

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  • | 4:00 p.m. March 19, 2024
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The Vivistim medical device.
The Vivistim medical device.
Courtesy image
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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Tampa General Hospital says it is the first hospital on the Gulf Coast of Florida to use a device for stroke patients experiencing loss of upper limb function.

The medical equipment, named a Vivistim, is pacemaker-like device implanted under the skin. Combined with a six-week physical therapy protocol, the device "significantly improves upper limb function for stroke patients," says Dr. Oliver Flouty, assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and a neurosurgeon at Tampa General.

Flouty performed the academic health system's first implant on Nov. 7, the hospital says.

With dual therapy, patients can return to the activities and tasks they used to perform, such as buttoning a shirt, preparing a meal or even playing a guitar, the hospital says.

"This device shows great promise as a key component in helping to improve the quality of life for our patients,’" says Flouty in a Tuesday news release. "It’s an exciting new breakthrough."

The Vivistim provides paired vagus nerve stimulation, or "Paired VNS." It was designed to strengthen the brain connections needed to improve hand and arm function. It does this by increasing neuroplasticity and enhancing repetitive-motion therapy, and, because the patient wears the device, it's portable, the hospital says.

The Vivistim system received Food and Drug Administration approval following a decade of preclinical research. Stroke survivors who have benefited from Vivistim reported enhancement across numerous quality-of-life measures, including mobility and self-care, according to a report in a medical journal.

Tampa General is a 981-bed nonprofit hospital and one of the largest hospitals in the United States.


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