It’s been three years since 20-year-old Colt Brake was paralyzed after tackling another player during a high school football game, and thanks to the MyoPro, a customized elbow brace, Brake’s mobility has improved significantly.
Brake was 17 when his life was changed forever. He tackled a player head-on during a high school football game and broke his neck. The impact crushed his C4 vertebra and fractured his C5 vertebra, which resulted in him being paralyzed in his legs with little movement in his upper body.
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MyoPro is a Myoelectric Arm Orthosis that helps amplify peoples’ weakened or paralyzed arm muscles so that they can regain control of their arm movement.
Brake started using the MyoPro braces about a year ago, after his mother was introduced to the product through networking with other people on Facebook.
While the MyoPro braces are designed for stroke victims, Brake uses the braces to build his muscle strength.
He practices with the brace and said his main goal right now is to be able to push a manual chair and has noticed a difference in himself since using the braces.
He said his arm strength has improved as well as his mindset.
When he puts the brace on and starts to move his arm, the sensor on the brace senses the movement and finishes the motion for him.
Brake, who requires assistance with most daily activities such as eating and cleaning, is now able to control his power wheelchair, touch his face, and exercise his arm muscles.
Chris Baughman, a certified prosthetist and orthotist, worked with the Brakes while they got used to the MyoPro brace.
“He’s really been good to us,” said Brake’s mother, Tammy. He came to the house several times. Anytime I said ‘Chris, something’s wrong’ or ‘I don’t understand something’ he was here.”
Baughman, who has been working with the product for two years, said Brake has been able to achieve some of the short-term goals they set for him.
“He even had the ability at one time to bring a piece of food to his mouth with the brace. Things like that are things we take for granted, but with Colt having the braces on he can do those things which normally without any kind of assisted device he couldn’t,” Baughman said.
Baughman has been in the field for 12 years, but has been working with MyoPro for the past two years.
“The technology has changed. It advances with the software – how we program it. There’s always an evolution on the software side as well. I’ve seen all of that increase as well,” he said.
“Of all the things we’ve gotten, this is the easiest,” Tammy Brake said. She said that as long as they see improvement they will continue to use the brace.
The brace has been designed and customized specifically for Brake’s arm, so as his progress changes it can be seen through the effectiveness of the brace.
“When his strength has gotten better, his signaling has gotten better, you see the braces feel like they’re too fast and he needs them to work differently, we go in there and change some of the settings to make them work more correct and more normalized,” Baughman said.
“We’ve also used Colt to work on some collaborations with N.C. State University and their engineering department. We’ve worked on some studies on Colt – just to try to help validate that he has improved range of motion what he can do with the braces on as opposed to having them off, he said. Being in this local community, being close to these educational systems and their advanced technologies, there’s definitely a thirst for the technology so it’s nice to have partners that can do some of these outcome studies,” Baughman said.
Baughman said Brake has been very easy to work with.
Brake said he had to be patient when using the arm brace because it’s taken longer to build his up his muscle.
“Colt’s been a good patient model for us. He’s gotten a lot of exposure.
“Colt’s had a difficult road to plow moving from his injury, but he has a great personality, he is very enthusiastic about his care and he’s very realistic as well and has a great support system,” Baughman said.
Although Brake is optimistic about the future and has made several strides during his journey he knows that progress takes time and nothing happens overnight.
“It’s not going to come back in a week,” he said. “Some people were like ‘Oh he played sports he was always moving and working hard, he’s got the best attitude – he’s going to walk’. But you can’t say that. You don’t know.”