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UF research: For stroke recovery, two therapies better than one

olfing and can now eat with his right hand.

"Everything except writing has improved 100 percent," Statham said. "I can do all the things I used to with my right arm. Even more important, my friends can tell a difference. I can't say enough good things about the program."

After finding in two prior studies that mild active electrical current restored motion to impaired fingers, wrists and hands some of the most difficult movements to regain Cauraugh wanted to determine if combining the therapy with motion training to both arms could enhance motor recovery.

When administered to the muscles of a paralyzed arm, mild electrical current called electromyogram- or EMG-triggered neuromuscular stimulation is thought to help the brain establish alternate pathways that activate the impaired limb to replace those disrupted by stroke damage and to boost the body's control so the arm can move through a full range of motion, he said.

In addition, although traditional rehabilitation focuses on treating paralyzed limbs only, evidence indicates working both arms together in a coordinated fashion also enhances motion because the brain's signal to the impaired arm is supplemented by its impulse to the unaffected one, Cauraugh said.

"We found the two protocols improved motor performance after just six hours of training," Cauraugh said. "It expedites motor recovery so these people can be more independent, and they feel good about the movements they can do. And if it improved this much with just six hours of training, then chances are that by extending the period of time, additional improvements would be found."

For the current study, 25 people with mild to moderate upper extremity paralysis from a stroke more than a year old were assigned randomly to one of three groups: those receiving electrical stimulation to their impaired arm while moving both arms, those receiving electrical stimulation and training only to the affected arm,
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Contact: James Cauraugh
jcaura@hhp.ufl.edu
352 392 0584 x1273
University of Florida
6-Jun-2002


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