Robotic physical therapy improves movement long after stroke

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 8 While the word robot conjures up Danger, Will Robinson images for many Americans, a diminutive 30-inch robot named MIT-Manus is challenging conventional wisdom about stroke rehabilitation, according to a preliminary study presented today at the American Stroke Associations 27th International Stroke Conference. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association.

The robot exercises patients limbs much like a physical or occupational therapist would. In this study, stroke survivors with reduced use of one arm performed robot-directed movement exercises and regained some ability to move their affected arm up to five years after a stroke.

In the future, the device could act as a home therapist, say investigators.

The MIT-Manus robot is an exciting tool that has wonderful potential, says Susan Fasoli, ScD, OTR, the studys lead author and a post-doctoral associate in mechanical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts. The robot could be ideal for home therapy because it can be programmed remotely by hooking it up to a phone line.

Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. About 4.6 million stroke survivors are alive today.

Traditional belief is that most recovery will happen within the first six months after a stroke, so physical and occupational therapy is concentrated during this time. This research suggests that robot-assisted sensorimotor therapy can help survivors recover movement abilities years later.

When an arm or leg doesnt recover function during that early period most patients learn to compensate for the loss and make little or no attempt to use the impaired limb, which leads to even more disability, says Fasoli.

To test the theory that recovery could continue long term, Fasoli and other team members used a robot designed by MIT engineers for use in physical and occupational th

Contact: Karen Hunter or Bridgette McNeill
American Heart Association

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