North County Water & Sports Therapy Center - November 2021



Fifty years ago, folks expected 2021 to feature flying cars and food pills — but did they predict knee robots? We don’t think so! Defying expectations, the San Francisco-based company Roam Robotics debuted a brand-new smart knee brace this summer that could be a game-changer for knee osteoarthritis patients. Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that impacts millions of people every year. Major symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, and a lack of mobility. Leg braces have long been an option to help reduce that pain by taking pressure off the joint, but the Ascend Wearable Robotic Knee Orthosis isn’t just a brace. It’s a “wearable robot” that takes the benefits of a brace to the next level. Where other braces are static, this smart brace uses algorithms to predict wearer actions and adjust itself throughout the day for maximum pain relief. It also has a lightweight carbon fiber shell, rechargeable batteries, a smartphone-like display, and built-in sensors that “detect user intention in real time to extend and flex the knee and help overcome weakness through precise stabilization.”

experienced improved mobility with the brace. It’s a potential substitute for knee replacement surgery.

The downside of the Ascend is its cost. According to PCMag, the brace will go for $7,000, although 50%–100% of that cost should be covered by Medicare or private insurance. Still, it is exciting to see a high-tech device come on the market for osteoarthritis sufferers, who could use it alongside physical therapy and other treatments. The future really is here, and it’s likely more companies will follow in Roam’s footsteps. As Roam Robotics CEO Tim Swift told NPR, “I believe we have the ability to change the relationship that people have with robots on a scale that has really never been considered. Our goal is not to build cyborgs. It’s to make people more human than they ever were before.” This summer, the FDA approved the brace, and it should be for sale this winter. To learn more, visit . PATIENT STORY “Before my TKR surgery, I was researching physical therapy centers. The overwhelmingly response was to go to NC Water & Sports if I wanted the best recovery. They were right! I worked with Leslie and Jan, and they are the BEST!! They always encouraged me and never gave up. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Everything was hard at the beginning but especially walking down stairs. I just couldn’t do it or walk down any type of decline without a lot of pain. Slowly with the exercises I did in the center and at home, I got stronger, and I am now able to quickly run down stairs and walk without any pain. Yesterday, I hiked Torrey Pines, and I feel like I’ve got my life back! Thank you, Leslie and Jan, I will miss seeing you both but I’m glad to be healthy! Love always,” —Janet Mucklow

One clinical study showed the Ascend reduced the pain of knee osteoarthritis patients by 46% on average, and another found more than 65% of participants 2

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