Dr. Charles Y. Liu, director of the University of Southern California Neurorestoration Center, and Dr. Jonathan J. Russin, director of the USC Neuro Revascularization Center, successfully placed the small Vivistim device under the skin of Rosa Maria Villalpando’s upper left chest area during an outpatient procedure. The news, reported in a May 11 news release, comes about nine months after MicroTransponder announced FDA approval of the Vivistim system.
“We are proud that the Vivistim System is reviving hope for stroke survivors and addressing an unmet need for those who have chronic impairment,” MicroTransponder CEO Richard Foust said in a news release. “Stroke survivors whose hand and arm function have not significantly improved can now collaborate with their healthcare professionals to assess if they are potential candidates for Vivistim.”
During rehabilitation therapy, a therapist will signal the implanted Vivistim device to deliver a gentle pulse to the vagus nerve while the stroke survivor performs a specific or functional task. Think cutting food, buttoning a shirt or playing games. The pairing of the rehabilitation exercise with VNS releases neuromodulators that create or strengthen neural connections and boost therapy effectiveness, according to MicroTransponder.
Villalpando is a clinical psychologist and former news reporter and anchor for the Los Angeles Univision affiliate. She found herself at a plateau in her physical therapy in 2019. She’s had only limited use of her hand and arm. Then she met an early user of the Vivistim from clinical trials who had regained more arm and hand use.
“That was the deciding factor for me,” said Villalpando, whose sister has been helping her with daily tasks and activities. “I’ve tried everything, and I miss being able to use my hand and arm.”