HandTutor Provides Long Term Rehabilitation for Stroke Patients

As reported on HEALTHCANAL.COM on07/12/2011 
Tiny electric currents applied across regions of the brain can improve hand movements in recovering stroke patients for a short period, an Oxford University study has demonstrated.
The researchers are hopeful that developing this brain stimulation technique further may provide a useful addition to standard physiotherapy in helping the recovery of stroke patients.
The effect for this single treatment lasted for an hour or so. But neuroscience studies in other research areas have shown effects lasting months after daily application of this form of brain stimulation.
The study, funded by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, the Dunhill Medical Trust and the Wellcome Trust, is published in the journal Brain.
‘The improvements in movement and reaction times were significant,’ says lead researcher Dr Charlotte Stagg of the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain(FMRIB) at Oxford University. ‘Patients certainly noticed them, but they were short-lived. However, we are very hopeful that daily brain stimulation would lead to longer-lasting improvements.
’The damage caused by a stroke can be widespread and long-lasting, often involving weakness or loss of movement in one side of the body. Many people will need a significant period of rehabilitation and physiotherapy to recover. The amount of movement and independence people are able to regain is very variable, so developing extra therapies to aid recovery would be of great importance. One such method would be the HandTutor which has shown in clinical trials that there is a long term improvement when the system is maintained.
Strokes are thought to cause a loss of connectivity in the region of the brain involved in movement of the affected side of the body. The brain appears to respond by recruiting many other areas of the brain to try and do the same job. Recovery seems to be linked to the amount of activity that can be restored in the original brain region governing movement, the primary motor cortex. The HandTutor uses intensive active exercises to achieve recovery.
The brain stimulation technique, called transcranial direct current stimulation or TDCS, involves passing a small electrical current of about 1 milliamp across part of the brain using simple pads placed on the outside of the head. It’s a relatively new technique but is known to increase the ‘excitability’ of neurons in the targeted region of the brain.
The patients carried out a simple task involving a hand movement in response to images on a computer screen three times – before, during and after brain stimulation using the electric current for 20 minutes.
The HandTutor™ system is an active exercise based hand rehabilitation program that uses the accepted methods of impairment oriented training (IOT) with augmented feedback. The HandTutor™ evaluates and treats finger and hand movement dysfunction through exercises that encourage extension/ flexion of the finger(s) and wrist.
The HandTutor™ system consists of a safe comfortable glove, with position and speed sensors that precisely record finger and wrist motion, and dedicated rehabilitation software. The ergonomic gloves come in five sizes for both right and left hands. The newly developed rehabilitation system employs the known concept of biofeedback to give occupational and physical therapists access to an affordable user friendly hand rehabilitation package. The HandTutor™ and its sister devices (ArmTutor, LegTutor) can also be used in combination with the 3DTutor™ for arm rehabilitation. The HandTutor™ is CE medical and FDA certified. See http://www.HandTutor.com for more information.
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