First Stroke Survivor Begins New Vivistim Paired VNS Therapy at PAM Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Humble

(Humble, Texas – March 11, 2024) – With the shared goal of enhancing the quality of life for stroke survivors, PAM Health recently launched a visionary collaboration with MicroTransponder®, Inc. as two stroke survivors began Vivistim® Paired VNS™ Therapy at PAM Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Humble, a recognized leader in providing comprehensive rehabilitation services. PAM Health’s Humble hospital is one location in its network of hospitals across the country.  By offering this technology, PAM Health will significantly increase access to Vivistim for ischemic stroke survivors who have not regained hand and arm function after 6 months or more of occupational or physical therapy.

The first PAM Health patient to use Vivistim Paired VNS therapy initially experienced an ischemic stroke in 2017.  The patient, a 69-year-old right-hand dominant male, initially faced significant left upper extremity deficits that impacted his daily activities, including dressing, toileting, and self-feeding.  Despite prior inpatient and outpatient therapy services, the challenges persisted, affecting even instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) such as laundry, medication management, and meal preparation.

After a comprehensive evaluation, the physician and the patient both realized the potential benefits of Vivistim Paired VNS therapy.  The patient was an ideal candidate because he had strong rehabilitation potential, a robust support system, and an unwavering commitment to participating in the rigorous therapy protocol at PAM Health. Since starting ViviStim® therapy, the patient has made remarkable strides and is confident he will once again be able to use his upper left extremity.

Advancements such as this provide hope and promise for victims of stroke.  Of the nearly 7 million stroke survivors in the United States, up to 60 percent of them experience persistent upper limb issues for 6 months or more.  As one of the first national healthcare systems to adopt Vivistim Paired VNS Therapy as a standard of care intervention, PAM Health is restoring hope for stroke survivors like the Houston-area patients recently outfitted with the small Vivistim device during outpatient procedures.

Named one of the “Best Inventions of 2023” by TIME magazine, the Vivistim Paired VNS System was FDA-approved in 2021 through the Breakthrough Device Program as a first-of-its-kind intervention for stroke therapy that has proven to be clinically effective in restoring 2-3 times more hand and arm function than traditional rehabilitation alone in just six weeks.

Once cleared by their surgeons, the stroke survivors will begin Vivistim Paired VNS Therapy with a Vivistim-trained occupational therapist or physical therapist at PAM Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Humble. As the therapists guide the patients through high-repetition, task-specific therapy, they will signal the Vivistim device to deliver vagus nerve stimulation to the patients. Pairing vagus nerve stimulation with therapy boosts neuroplasticity, which helps the brain form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experiencing following injury.

“Our partnership with MicroTransponder further enables us to fulfill our mutual goal of improving the functional ability of stroke survivors and helping them achieve their optimal quality of life,” said Kristen Smith, MHA, PT, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Business & Transformation Officer of PAM Health. “By offering Vivistim therapy services at PAM Health,  we’re positioned as a preferred care option for medical providers by responding to their need for more effective stroke therapy to help their patients live more independently.”

PAM Health is excited to offer this evidence-based Paired VNS™ technology for stroke therapy. As only the second rehabilitation provider in the Greater Houston Area to integrate Vivistim Therapy™ into their services, PAM Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Humble is positioned to be the go-to local provider for stroke survivors seeking to continue their care with a proven and experienced leader in brain injury and neurorehabilitation.

“We’re committed to facilitating meaningful recovery for our stroke survivors by delivering specialized, high-quality rehabilitation services,” said Dr. Craig DiTommaso, Medical Director of PAM Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Humble. “The evidence supporting Paired VNS Therapy demonstrates clinical improvements as well as functional improvements, which is what matters most to stroke survivors who want to maximize their physical ability so they can increase their level of independence.”

 With Paired VNS Therapy, Vivistim users have regained the ability to perform activities of daily living, including tying shoelaces, buttoning clothes, opening doors, writing, and cooking. They also report being able to use their hands and arms to participate in hobbies such as knitting, fishing, and golfing.

“We’re proud that Vivistim is now an integral part of PAM Health’s comprehensive stroke program because their outcomes demonstrate a commitment to promoting the highest level of function possible for stroke survivors,” said Richard Foust, CEO of Austin, Texas-based MicroTransponder. “It’s a visionary collaboration that enables more stroke survivors to access Paired VNS Therapy.”

In addition to its Humble hospital, PAM Health provides outpatient stroke rehabilitation services at three other Houston-area locations and nine other Texas locations, which include specialty and rehabilitation hospitals in the Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio areas.