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March 22nd 2000

The ABC Daytime drama, ''Port Charles,'' will make innovative strides beginning Tuesday April 18, 2000 by introducing the groundbreaking therapeutic advancement system, Parastep-I. Doctor Matt Harmon, played by Mitch Longley (who has used a wheelchair since a  car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down in his late teens) will introduce and  demonstrate this remarkable device.  


Entertainment and Dis?Ability
Submitted by Barbara Allen


Bringing technology to the forefront, ''Port Charles'' has incorporated the use of the Parastep-I System into Dr. Harmon's storyline. The Parastep-I System is a microcomputer-controlled, neuromuscular electrical stimulation system that enables unbraced standing and short-distance walking by certain spinal cord-injured persons with paraplegia or quadriplegia.

Having worked with Parastep over the last few years, Mr. Longley has improved his cardiovascular endurance and increased muscle mass in his quadriceps.  

''The fact that the 'Port Charles' producers have decided to incorporate the Parastep system into my character's storyline is another wonderful example of how daytime television addresses issues which are not only entertaining, but educational as well, ''enthuses Mr. Longley. ''It's a reflection of a certain social responsibility I am proud to  be a part of.''  

''We have all learned a great deal from Mitch about the importance of continued stimulation and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries,'' adds executive  producer Julie Carruthers. ''It is very exciting to bring such an innovative  rehabilitation tool to the attention of our viewers.''  

After appearing in a Ralph Lauren Polo print ad, Longley caught the attention of  casting agents and landed a role on the television series, ''Another World.'' Other  television credits include ''Vanishing Son'' and ''Burning Zone.'' He is currently  appearing on stage in Los Angeles in a one-man show that he also wrote, titled ''Courting  Darkness.''  

Mr. Longley is the founder of the non-profit organization SOWOHO, Spirit of the Wounded  Horse, Inc., which helps underprivileged Native Americans with physical disabilities. In  November 1990, he traveled to Egypt and conducted research on disability-related issues.  

Sigmedics, Inc. was incorporated in 1988 for the purpose of developing, manufacturing and marketing rehabilitation products for the spinal cord injured.   Its first product, the Parastep-I System was designed to emphasize safety and  simplicity of use. The system is the result of many years of laboratory study and clinical collaboration by Drs. Graupe and Kohn, at the University of Illinois and at Humana-Michael  Reese Hospital and Medical Center, both in Chicago.  

The Parastep is a patented, microcomputer-controlled functional electrical stimulation system that enables unbraced standing and short distance walking by appropriately selected  and trained upper-motor-neuron injured patients with paraplegia and some incomplete  patients with quadriplegia. It has the capability of directing up to six channels of  electrical stimulation to the user's lower extremities and trunk, and with the aid of a specially adapted rolling walker, it enables the user to stand from a sitting position,  walk for short distances and resume a sitting position.  

The Parastep-I System is available by prescription from an orthopedist or other  physician and is accompanied by 32 required training sessions. The user is taught to  initiate and control the intensity of stimulation to the muscles and nerves through the  keypad on the control unit. It is the only such device to have received U.S. Food &  Drug Administration approval for commercial marketing in the United States. For more  information about Parastep, please contact Sigmedics, Inc. at (847) 279-0390 or email  Frank Zeiss at fzeiss@ameritech.com.  

''Port  Charles'' focuses on the romantic lives, loves and adventures of dynamic young doctors who  strive to balance their careers and personal entanglements. It debuted on the ABC  Television Network on June 1, 1997, as a two-hour, primetime special.  ''Port Charles'' airs MONDAY-FRIDAY (12:30-1:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

Paralinks thanks Barbara Allen for passing this article on to us and to you! -Link


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