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Seven-year-old with cerebral palsy finds restored mobility through medical device the size of an iPod

Cincinnati, Ohio, April 18, 2012 – Zachary Brophy, now seven-years-old, suffered a stroke while in his mother’s womb which doctors believe caused a mild form of cerebral palsy (CP), resulting in a form of partial lower leg paralysis known as “foot drop”. Because of the paralysis, Brophy was weak on his right side and had an unnatural gait. However, a medical device the size of an iPod is helping change all of that. Brophy was recently fit with the WalkAide by Hanger Clinic clinician Ted Ryder. Worn around the calf, just below the knee, the WalkAide uses electrical stimulation to combat foot drop and restore mobility to people with CP, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and incomplete spinal cord injury.

Since being fit with the WalkAide, Brophy has increased energy and strength, both of which help him navigate the Xavier Basketball, Cincinnati Reds, and Bengals’ stadiums when he attends the games of his three favorite teams. He is also able to run a lot smoother, and finds the WalkAide makes it easier to play kickball at recess and golf with his dad. Brophy will soon use his new device to help him on the basketball court. Additionally, since using the WalkAide, Brophy has been experiencing more than 200 “normal” steps after the device has been turned off, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. Essentially, the WalkAide is helping to re-teach his brain how to function normally. Previously, Brophy wore a brace to help him walk which required him to wear gym shoes everywhere, even to the pool. Now, he loves his newfound freedom to choose from a variety of shoes, even the option to walk barefoot.

Brophy recently spoke to his local NBC television station about the WalkAide and what a difference it is making in his life. Following is the resulting news story: http://www.wlwt.com/video/29946110/detail.html.

Brophy’s WalkAide is a pediatric version that is made with a smaller cuff and smaller electrodes to allow for secure fit on small legs, precise electrode placement, and lower pulse-width settings for gentle electrical stimulation options that can be adapted as children such as Brophy grow and mature into adulthood. The pediatric version of the device was recently designed and launched by manufacturer Innovative Neurotronics after they realized the “adult size” WalkAide was too large for a lot of young potential WalkAide patients, and in some cases, didn’t allow for the positive results and restored mobility the WalkAide is capable of achieving.

Clinical data – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted the first study ever examining children with CP and the WalkAide. Preliminary results showed the WalkAide significantly restores walking ability in children with CP by notably improving ankle control during walking. More information can be found here: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=98837&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1638728&highlight=.

How the WalkAide works – The WalkAide applies low level electrical currents directly to the peroneal nerve (i.e. the motor nerve that controls the movement of the ankle and foot), prompting a muscle contraction which lifts the foot at the appropriate time during the gait cycle. The device uses an embedded accelerometer, which is similar sensor technology to that used in Wii video gaming systems, to determine the appropriate timing for stimulation with every step. 

About Hanger: Founded in 1861 by the first amputee of the Civil War, Hanger Clinic, a business unit of Hanger Orthopedic Group, Inc. (NYSE: HGR), owns and operates 33 patient care clinics in Ohio and 700+ nationwide. The certified clinicians of Hanger provide patients with the latest in orthotic and prosthetic solutions, including microprocessor devices for those with limb loss and neuromuscular technologies for those with paralysis due to stroke, MS and other debilitating conditions. After a six-month celebration of its 150th anniversary, on February 1, 2012 Hanger unveiled a comprehensive new brand identity to position the company for the future. Subject to shareholder approval at the Company’s annual shareholder meeting in May 2012, the new brand includes renaming the parent company from Hanger Orthopedic Group, Inc. to “Hanger, Inc.”, and referring to the patient care business as “Hanger Clinic” (formerly Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics). For more information on Hanger and the new brand, visit www.hanger.com.

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Jennifer Bittner, Hanger Orthopedic Group
904-249-4210, jbittner@hanger.com

Krisita Burket, Hanger Orthopedic Group
904-249-0314, kburket@hanger.com

For more stories like this, visit www.hanger.com/aboutus/newsroom, www.Facebook.com/HangerNews, and www.Twitter.com/HangerNews.