MyoPro "robotic arm" engineered in NE Ohio gives mobility to the paralyzed

Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 18:46:54-05

Whether it's from a stroke, traumatic brain injury or something else, more than 5.5 million Americans are living with paralysis. 

Geauga Rehab Engineering in Chardon is creating something to give these people their mobility back. It's the first like it in the world.

"MyOmo stands for My Own Motion," explained Jon Naft, President of GRE and Vice President/General Manager of MyOmo. "It's what the very first patient said when the MyoPro was first put on their arm. The patient said, 'This is like having my own motion back.'"

The idea came from a student at MIT. The concept: if a prosthetic can help amputees, why not engineer something around an existing arm for people who are paralyzed?

People like Vietnam veteran Arthur "Jay Jay" Johnson.

His December 2013 stroke left him totally paralyzed on the left side.

"It's an unmet need here in the United States and all over the world," said Naft.

Three years ago, Johnson became the first in the world to get a MyoPro robotic arm.

"It's almost like I never had a stroke," Johnson explained. "And that's the good part. You really don't know what you're missing until you can't use it."

Simple things like cooking and chores around the house were impossible before Johnson got the robotic arm. Now, he's able to do them all on his own.

"I've come along a long way," he noted.

It works with sensors that "listen" for the arm trying to move, then instantly transmit the data to the MyoPro's computer, giving patients their mobility and independence back.

"To watch Jay Jay make progress just only increases my challenge," said Naft. "So, all of us at MyOmo and all of us here at Geauga Rehab, when we see him doing basic functions with his device, we're ready for the next level."

And so is Johnson. He recently closed trading at the New York Stock Exchange in a banging of the gavel, marking the end of his paralysis.

"Before, I couldn't do that," he said.

Geauga Rehab Engineering ships the MyoPro robotic arms all over the country and beyond. It has been covered by most of the majors insurance providers in the U.S.