A Mobile Future for Bria

Karen McNew McGuire's picture
By Karen McNew McGuire on May 3, 2019

When Bria Scharf was nine months old, her parents sought help at Carilion Children's to see why she wasn't using her left limbs. An MRI revealed that a portion of her brain had not fully developed in utero, possibly due to a stroke before she was born.

Bria's care team took a coordinated approach to getting her grasping, walking and, now at age five, even jumping.

Pediatric therapist Ashley Feuerstein, D.P.T., says the ongoing care has helped Bria catch up—literally—with her peers. 

"Probably one of the biggest milestones is when she really started taking some of her own steps, which was actually close to the time of a typical kiddo," said Ashley.

Her success is due partly to the hands-on therapies she receives at Carilion Children's, and partly to the device she wears when she's not in a therapy session.

The small device from Bioness wraps around her leg and, once in place, it sends electrical impulses mimicking nerve impulses that stimulate Bria's muscles when she engages them. Known as "functional electrical stimulation," the impulses work to help strengthen her leg with the goal of eventually not needing the device at all. 

Carilion Clinic providers have used Bioness devices for adult stroke patients for a number of years. Now children like Bria can look forward to a lifetime of mobility with help from the device and the pediatric experts at Carilion Children's.