Patients who are recovering from a stroke are vulnerable to potentially fatal blood clots, known as venous thromboembolism or VTE.
Fortunately, medical experts have discovered a tool that helps keep these incidents at bay. Researchers found that using a "half wristwatch" device, known as the geko, on the leg actually helps decrease the risk of these blood clots in stroke patients.
Medical Experts Try Using The Geko
According to the product website, the geko device is roughly the size of a wrist-watch and is worn on the knee. It stimulates the common peroneal nerve to activate the calf and foot muscle pumps, which increases the blood flow in the deep veins of the calf to prevent or treat a variety of medical conditions.
Even if the patient is not moving, the geko accounts for about 60 percent of the effect of walking, The Scotsman reported.
A team of researchers conducted a clinical audit at the Royal Stoke University Hospital to see whether the geko can help with patients recovering from a stroke or not.
Findings show that none of the 219 patients fitted with the geko displayed evidence of a blood clot within 90 days. In the same period of time, 11 cases of blood clots were recorded among the 463 people prescribed IPC.
Dr. Indira Natarajan, who is a consultant stroke physician and clinical director of neurosciences at the hospital, said that the device is ideal for stroke patients who are not suited to intermittent pneumatic compression, which is what experts usually recommend to prevent blood clots.
"When patients are admitted for stroke, one of the major complications is the formation of clots in the legs," he explained. "These clots can sometimes move from the legs to the lung and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal."
Unfortunately, he adds, about 30 percent of patients cannot opt for an IPC pump for a wide variety of reasons, whether it's because of discomfort, leg ulcers, or something else.
"The geko gets round these problems," Natarajan pointed out. "It's like a half wrist-watch which fits around the outside of the knee joint. It produces an electrical impulse down the leg and the intensity can be increased or decreased by a plus or minus switch."
The Dangers Of Blood Clots
According to the CDC, blood clots usually form in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis, but they can also form in the arm. When part of the blood clot breaks away, it can travel to the lungs and cause a blockage called pulmonary embolism, which is potentially fatal.
As many as 900,000 people in the United States could be affected by VTE every year. Among all the people affected, half will suffer long-term complications and one-third will have a recurrence within a decade.
Ten to 30 percent of people with VTE die within a month of diagnosis, while the first symptom of 25 percent of those who have a pulmonary embolism is sudden death.