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Read Original Story

New Device Gives Hope To Paralyzed

Rating

2 Star

New Device Gives Hope To Paralyzed

Our Review Summary

The story of a young, athletic woman’s paralysis is frightening and heart-wrenching. That she is now able to perform basic tasks with her arms again with the help of functional electrical stimulation (FES) is inspiring. However, because the story focuses on her positive experience, the story implies that the FES works perfectly for all people. In reality, the basic question “how well does this treatment work?” is not answered.

Although the story says that “research is under way,” this is insufficient information on the strength of the available evidence. Neither does the story mention if FES is available anywhere other than this one clinic. In addition, it isn’t clear whether FES is investigational or FDA-approved. Is the woman in the story a study subject or is this part of routine care? Also left out of the story are any harms or side effects of treatment. Because this is an invasive, implantable device, there are risks from the implantation alone. It is also unclear how long the device will last.

The story does quote two physicians from the clinic that provides FES. However, the story should have quoted other, independent physicians or researchers who could have provided some much needed perspective.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention costs.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not attempt to quantify the benefits. By focusing on one patient’s positive experience, the story implies that the treatment works perfectly for all people. In reality, the basic question “how well does this treatment work?” is not answered.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention harms or side effects. Because this is an invasive, implantable device, there are risks from the implantation alone. It is also unclear how long the device will last.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story says that “research is under way,” this is insufficient information on the strength of the available evidence. Even focusing on this one patient example, it is not clear whether the patient could move one or both arms on her own without the device. The implication is that all of her arm movements are due to the device. That probably isn’t the case.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story quotes two physicians from the clinic that provides the treatment. The story should have quoted other, independent physicians or researchers who could have provided some much needed perspective.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any alternative treatment options, such as physical and occupational therapy. It isn’t clear what additional benefit the device has provided beyond standard physical and occupational therapy. Time also can have a helpful effect. It isn’t clear what is the relative contribution of this new device versus standard care.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention if the device is available anywhere other than this clinic in Cleveland. In addition, it isn’t clear whether it is investigational or FDA-approved. Is the woman in the story a study subject or is this part of routine care?

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story states that this is a new approach.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

Although the story focused on just one patient at one institution, there is no way to know if the story relied on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 2 of 9 Satisfactory

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