Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Making a mental match: Pairing mechanical device with stroke patients

Date:
July 16, 2014
Source:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Summary:
A functional MRI-compatible hemiparesis rehab device that creates a long latency stretch reflex at the exact time as a brain signal has been developed by researchers. It is designed to assist stroke victims. "The device is designed to adapt to people whether they are hyper, normo or hyporeflexive," said one developer.

The repetitive facilitation exercise (RFE) is one of the most common rehabilitation tactics for stroke patients attempting to regain wrist movement. Stroke hemiparesis individuals are not able to move that part of their body because they cannot create a strong enough neural signal that travels from the brain to the wrist.

With RFE, however, patients get a mental boost. They are asked to think about moving. At the same time, a practitioner flexes the wrist. The goal is to send a long latency response from the stretch that arrives in the brain at the exact time the thought happens, creating a neural signal. The result is a strong, combined response that zips back to the forearm muscles and moves the wrist.

It all happens in a span of approximately 40 to 60 milliseconds.

"Timing is everything. When the window is that small, it's not easy for two people to match each other," said Georgia Institute of Technology master's graduate Lauren Lacey.

That's why Lacey and a team of fellow Georgia Tech researchers created a mechanical device that takes people out of the process, replacing them with accurate computers. Their functional MRI-compatible hemiparesis rehab device creates a long latency stretch reflex at the exact time as a brain signal.

"It's kind of like trying to fill a bucket with water," explained Minoru Shinhara, an associate professor in Georgia Tech's Human Neuromuscular Physiology Lab. "Stroke individuals can only mentally fill it halfway. The machine pours in the rest to make it full."

So far, the research team has worked only with healthy individuals in their study. Study participants lie on a bed with the arm extended beneath a pneumatic actuator tendon hammer. In order to simulate the weak signal created by hemiparesis individuals to move their wrist, a transcranial magnetic stimulator (TMS) is placed on the heads of these healthy individuals at a 45-degree angle. Milliseconds after the hammer taps the wrist's tendon, the TMS creates a weak signal in the motor cortex. The responses overlap, produce and send a strong signal back to the arm, and the wrist moves.

The team has successfully varied the timing of the TMS signal and speed of the hammer to strike faster or slower depending on how much of a boost is needed to complement the brain signal. Now that the researchers have proven the viability of the TMS-actuator system, they will next work with stroke individuals.

"The device is designed to adapt to people whether they are hyper, normo or hyporeflexive," said Lacey, who graduated in spring with a master's degree from the George Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.

Also, because the machine is MRI-compatible, it will allow the team to study what is happening in the brain during rehab, opening the door for robotics.

"Once we fully understand what is happening mentally and physiologically, we should be able to create a robot that can reproduce successful rehabilitative exercises such as RFE," said Jun Ueda, an associate professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering. "It appears that the timing is the critical piece of this exercise. Robots are great at timing, so the results are very promising for robotics."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. "Making a mental match: Pairing mechanical device with stroke patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716123839.htm>.
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2014, July 16). Making a mental match: Pairing mechanical device with stroke patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716123839.htm
Georgia Institute of Technology. "Making a mental match: Pairing mechanical device with stroke patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716123839.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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