What is myoelectric technology?

Our company was named by a user while she was testing one of our first devices. A stroke survivor, she exclaimed, “It feels like my own motion,” upon first donning the device, and the rest is, well, history. It’s a heartwarming story that speaks to our commitment to patients, but this catchy name also bears relation to the technology that powers our products.

This technology is called myoelectric. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but “my own” is a good way of looking at it, too.

You see, our muscles emit electrical impulses, which are measured as EMG signals. Your brain sends signals each time you want to raise your arm or reach for a glass of water. Everyone’s muscles emit such impulses, but neurological damages or other impairments can prevent movement from ever occurring in the limb.

That’s where myoelectric technology comes in. Instead of controlling a weakened or paralyzed limb, these EMG signals can be used to power a functional orthotic device, like the MyoPro. The device contains its own power source (a battery in our case), and motor, which are controlled by the wearer’s own muscle signals.

So it doesn’t just feel like your own motion, it is your own motion signaling that propels the device and, in turn, your arm. Sensors on the device read your muscle signals and respond accordingly — no outside electric stimulation or invasive procedures are employed.

Myoelectric technology offers patients several advantages over conventional orthotics, which are powered by the wearer through harnesses attached to functional parts of impaired appendages. Because their resulting movements are not natural, using such devices can be very tiring. Myoelectric devices, on the other hand, are more effortless and intuitive, so learning to use them is easier and patients can wear them for longer periods.

They can also be adjusted to the specific abilities and strengths of their wearer to compensate for any severe weaknesses in grip or range of motion. As one of our patients said, “It’s like power steering for your arm!”

The MyoPro is especially unique. Myoelectric devices have existed for many decades — early antecedents can be traced back to the 1960s. However, the technology was typically only applied to prosthetics for amputees. We saw an opportunity: employing this mature technology to improve the lives of people who were not amputees, but nonetheless suffered from impaired motion.

From this simple idea, the Myomo was born.

Our latest offering, the MyoPro Motion-W represents years of continual improvements to this revolutionary technology. Users can now move their wrists in three degrees of motion!

If you’d like to learn more about the MyoPro and determine if myoelectric technology is right for you, get evaluated at one of our O&P centers across the country. We also partner with several organizations to make our devices available to as many people as possible.

So contact us today and to learn more about the MyoPro and how it may be a way to help restore motion to your paralyzed or weakened arm.

Originally published at myomoinc.tumblr.com.

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