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Returning to a Job She Loves, Thanks to Technology

Posted by Lynn Bronikowski Nov 14 2017

Jessica Peters pulls a tray of freshly-baked dog biscuits from the oven at the New England Dog Biscuit Company in Salem, Mass., where she works with her dog Finky by her side.

“I love my job because dogs and baking are just awesome,” says Peters who six years ago at age 26 experienced a stroke caused by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 4—a rare vascular disease.

Her now-husband, Jon Peters, had found her struggling in the night, recognized she was having a stroke and got her to the hospital where she had surgery.

“When I woke up I was thinking why can’t I speak; what happened to my head and I cried,” she recalls, adding that her time in the hospital is a blur.

She ultimately transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in nearby Boston where her goal was to speak her wedding vows and walk on her father’s arm down the aisle at her backyard wedding five years ago.

“My right side is affected but I’m a lefty,” says Peters who found doing chores and even baking dog biscuits was not possible.

“I could not carry the trays from the oven and couldn’t ice the biscuits,” she says.

She went to work looking for a solution.

“I wanted to try everything because I wanted the use of my right hand badly,” she says.

Through online research she found Myomo Inc. in nearby Cambridge, Mass., a medical robotics company that offers expanded mobility to people with neurological disorders and upper-limb paralysis.

“Myomo is close to me so I’m lucky I was able to go there and speak with them,” said Peters.

Soon after, she was outfitted with the MyoPro® orthosis—a lightweight wearable device that restored function to her weakened right arm.

MyoPro does not require any implants or extensive training and it delivers no electric stimulation. Sensors built into the device simply contact the surface of the skin and read the myoelectric signals. It interprets these signals to move tiny motors in the device that assist in moving the elbow, wrist and hand the way the wearer intends.

For Peters that meant once again being able to pull trays out the oven and doing such everyday tasks as vacuuming, sweeping and loading the dishwasher at the home she and her husband bought since her stroke.

For her, MyoPro means a newfound freedom.

“I can do things now,” she said. “I am not disabled.”

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