Post Stroke Physical Therapy Exercise Products

Two-thirds of the 700,000 Americans who have a stroke each year survive and require rehabilitation. But fewer than one in three post-stroke patients undergoing physical therapy perform the at-home exercises their physical therapists recommend.

A team of researchers at Ohio State University is using a $653,000 grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to develop a more fun and effective way for patients to work on regaining movement and mobility in their upper limbs.

Lynne Gauthier, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, is leading the team creating a video game for the Microsoft Kinect that the team hopes could expand access to a specific kind of rehabilitation called constraint-induced movement therapy. The game would allow patients with mild-to-moderate upper-limb impairment to perform guided CI therapy in their homes.

In standard stroke rehabilitation, patients only get a few hours of therapy each week and tend to develop what’s known as “nonuse,” in which they avoid use of the affected arm because it’s clumsy and awkward. CI therapy was designed to overcome nonuse by restraining the unaffected arm and upping the intensity of therapy to several hours a day over a period of two weeks.

Studies have demonstrated the ability of CI therapy to improve upper extremity function in patients shortly after stroke and after time has passed. Several studies have also shown changes in brain activity associated with the therapy.

Despite a body of research that suggests CI therapy is more effective than standard rehabilitation, it hasn’t become standard of care because it costs about $6,000 and isn’t typically covered by insurance, Gauthier said, so only a small number of specialty clinics offer it. Less than one percent of patients who are eligible for it are able to travel to those clinics and pay for it, she added.

Gauthier said her team’s objective is to develop and pilot a home-based program that retains the fundamental principles of CI therapy but changes the way it’s delivered, so more patients can access it for a lower cost ($500 or less). The video game the team is developing targets both subacute stroke patients who have completed inpatient rehabilitation as well as patients with chronic post-stroke impairment.

The game uses Microsoft Kinect’s motion capture technology to guide patients through a series of therapeutic exercises set in a river adventure theme, Gauthier said. Patients would visit a clinic for initial consultation and the game would act as a consultant to guide them through exercises at home. Patients would also be given a restraint mitt to encourage them to use their affected side more often in daily activities.

“A lot of these kinds of rehab games are basically about just getting the person to move a lot,” she said. “But we’re trying to make it so that the game would stimulate what the therapist would do. Just as a therapist would make a task harder when the person improves, the game would do the same thing.”

To do that, Gauthier is working with a cross-disciplinary team made up of a computer scientist, an electrical engineer, a biomechanist, two physical therapists and Gauthier, a psychologist and neuroscientist.

Eventually the team will create computer algorithms that would allow the program to track patients’ progress over time and provide performance feedback to patients and therapists. For the first year of the grant, though, it’s focused on game design.

Over the next several months, the team will work with patients and therapists to refine the game; the second year of the grant will focus on testing it in patients’ homes. “We feel it’s very important to involve stakeholders,” she said. “We don’t really know what the therapist response is going to be, but we are trying to involve them to make sure that we design a product that they would actually use.”

Kinect joins other physical therapy solutions already helping patients recover their lost mobility strengths. One such product is the TUTOR family of products. The HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR,LEGTUTOR and 3DTUTOR are ergonomically designed comfortable gloves and braces which are placed strategically on affected limbs and allows the patient to get intensive self initiated exercises via sensors that are connected to dedicated software.

The ARMTUTOR specifically trains the upper limb through dedicated software games such as : snowman, asteroid attack, car race and others. The exercises are designed to increase brain activity. Therapists monitor progress and then design a customized exercise program for that patient giving him appropriate feedback. The TUTORs are currently in use in leading U.S. and European hospitals and clinics and are available through telerehabilitation in the patient’s home.

The TUTORs can be used by adults as well as children from the age of 5 and up and are fully certified by the FDA and CE.

See WWW.MEDITOUCH.CO.IL for further information.



2 responses to this post.

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