Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Robotic Treadmill Training Helps Retrain Brain, Improves Walking

Date:
November 30, 2005
Source:
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Summary:
People who have suffered partial paralysis from spinal-cord injury show increased activity in the part of the brain responsible for muscle movement and motor learning after 12 weeks of training on a robotic treadmill, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

Dr. Patricia Winchester, chairwoman of physical therapy at UT Southwestern Allied Health Sciences School, works with a patient using the Lokomat robotic treadmill. UT Southwestern researchers have demonstrated that locomotor training can promote activation in the parts of the brain involved in walking in spinal-cord injury patients.
Credit: Image courtesy of UT Southwestern Medical Center

People who have suffered partial paralysis from spinal-cord injury show increased activity in the part of the brain responsible for muscle movement and motor learning after 12 weeks of training on a robotic treadmill, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

Their study, which is currently online and will be published in the December issue of the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, is the first to demonstrate that locomotor training can promote activation in the parts of the brain involved in walking in spinal-cord injury patients, said lead author Dr. Patricia Winchester, chairwoman of physical therapy at UT Southwestern Allied Health Sciences School.

The results suggest that rehabilitation strategies could be designed "based in part upon whether or not they engage the critical areas of the brain necessary for walking," said Dr. Winchester.

Additionally, the findings suggest that a diagnostic technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), used by the researchers to measure the activation of these brain areas, "may be useful in predicting which individuals will benefit from a particular intervention" after spinal-cord injury, Dr. Winchester said.

David Cunniff, one of the study patients, described his improvements as "quite dramatic." He said within about a month of training on the robotic treadmill, he stood up out of his wheelchair for the first time.

"I had no idea I'd be able to do that," he said. Prior to the training, he could only stand with assistance and could not walk.

Today he uses only a cane to move about. "I don't think I could have ever gotten to the place I am without the Lokomat robotic device and UT Southwestern," Mr. Cunniff said.

The study followed four spinal-cord injury patients with varying degrees of paralysis. All underwent rehabilitation therapy using a computerized treadmill called the Lokomat Driven Gait Orthosis. The device supports the weight of the patient in a harness, while robotic devices control their limb movements on a treadmill. During training, the patient watches his or her progress on a real-time computer monitor. By providing sensory information to the spinal cord and brain, the device signals the body to step again.

The study participants were assessed before and after completion of the treadmill training with fMRI. Pictures of blood flow in the brain during body movement were compared to fMRI images taken when the patients were at rest.

After training, those patients who showed the most progress in completing a simple task - flexing their ankles - showed increased activity in the portion of their brains called the cerebellum while undergoing fMRI. However, only those patients who showed a "substantial" change in the cerebellum during the task improved their ability to walk.

Of the four patients, Mr. Cunniff and another man who could walk with a cane after the training had the greatest changes in activation of the cerebellum. Prior to training, the second man required a walker, a brace and physical assistance to walk.

Of the other two patients, one was able to walk with a walker and some physical assistance after the 12-week Lokomat training. Before the training, he had been unable to walk or stand. The fourth patient could not walk before or after training, but nonetheless showed some increased brain activation - but not in the cerebellum - after using the Lokomat.

"The study suggests that the cerebellum plays an important role in recovery of walking," said Dr. Winchester.

The researchers have now enrolled more than 25 study patients. The next step in the research is to use single positron emission computerized tomography (SPECT) to look at the patient's blood flow in the brain during the performance of a task. SPECT involves the administration of a radioactive dye that migrates to the patient's brain and produces a three-dimensional image of hot spots of brain activity.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Roderick McColl, associate professor of radiology; Dr. Ross Querry, assistant professor of physical therapy; Nathan Foreman and James Mosby, faculty associates in physical therapy; Dr. Keith Tansey, assistant professor of neurology and physical medicine and rehabilitation and director of the Southwestern Spinal Cord Injury Program; and Dr. Jon Williamson, professor of physical therapy.

The study was supported in part by the Western Rehabilitation Research Network.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Robotic Treadmill Training Helps Retrain Brain, Improves Walking." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051130085728.htm>.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2005, November 30). Robotic Treadmill Training Helps Retrain Brain, Improves Walking. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051130085728.htm
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Robotic Treadmill Training Helps Retrain Brain, Improves Walking." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051130085728.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins