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RALEIGH, N.C. (October 20, 2023) – Stroke patients who suffer from post ischemic stroke upper extremity weakness now have a new therapy available at WakeMed. Utilizing vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) during rehabilitation therapy, 25 percent of ischemic stroke patients may benefit from this breakthrough treatment. Used in conjunction with rehabilitation therapy, VNS is shown to generate two to three times more hand and arm function than rehabilitation therapy alone.

Stroke VNS Rehab What is it?

Stroke VNS Rehab utilizes a new FDA-approved device that works within the brain and body, to make stroke rehabilitation therapy 2 to 3 times more effective. This combination of therapy with vagus nerve stimulation is designed to help the brain strengthen or create new neural pathways, similar to building a bridge to bypass a damaged area.

Who Can Benefit?

  • Chronic ischemic stroke survivors who have not regained arm and hand function six months after stroke
  • Patients considered to have moderate to severe deficits by their physician

Stages of Stroke VNS Rehab

Implantation of Device

  • Same-day, outpatient procedure with small medical device, that can fit in the palm of your hand
  • 2 small incisions: upper left chest and neck
  • Similar procedures safely performed for over 25 years to treat other medical conditions

Stroke VNS Outpatient Rehabilitation

  • After recovery from implantation, continue outpatient rehabilitation
  • Therapist signals the implant to deliver a gentle pulse to the vagus nerve while the user performs a specific task.

Stroke VNS at Home

  • Activated with a simple magnet swipe
  • While practicing rehabilitation exercises or performing routine tasks at home, users can activate the system.


If you have a patient that you believe may benefit from Stroke VNS Rehab, you can place an order through Epic for a Stroke VNS OT Initial Evaluation. For non-EPIC users, fax the referral to 919-235-1328 or call 919-350-7000 with further questions. Our outpatient rehabilitation experts will follow up to evaluate eligibility, determine potential clinic benefit and provide family and caregivers guidance for next steps.

About WakeMed Health & Hospitals

Serving the community since 1961, WakeMed is a not-for-profit health care system founded and based in Raleigh, N.C. WakeMed exists to improve the health and well-being of our community by providing outstanding and compassionate care to all. WakeMed’s 970-bed system comprises a network of facilities throughout the Triangle area, including three full-service hospitals, seven emergency departments, a dedicated Children’s Hospital and Rehabilitation Hospital, more than 90 physician offices and Wake County’s only Level I Trauma Center. WakeMed’s mission-driven team includes more than 10,300 employees, 1,400 volunteers and 1,300 affiliated physicians, along with the more than 700 physicians and providers with WakeMed Physician Practices – all representing the best minds and the biggest hearts and the finest quality in health care and community health. For more information, visit www.wakemed.org or follow WakeMed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.