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Robot-assisted therapy could improve mobility after stroke

Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body affects around 80 per cent of stroke survivors



Robot-assisted therapy could help people with stroke paralysis regain their mobility, a new study has found.

Stroke paralysis is a disruption in the transmission of neural impulses between the brain and the muscles and in most cases, affects the opposite side where the stroke damaged the brain.

According to Stroke Connect, paralysis or weakness on one side of the body happens to around 80 per cent of stroke survivors.

The research team at the Institute for Neuromodulation and Neurotechnology at the University Hospital and the University of Tuebingen in Germany, studied a brain-robot apparatus to control the movements of a hand in stroke patients with paralysis.

The scientists used electroencephalogram (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) to measure brain and muscle activity in both healthy participants and stroke survivors who had paralysis in their hands.

The first group consisted of 27 people without a history of psychiatric or neurological disorders and a second group of eight right-handed participants who suffered paralysis in their hands following a stroke.

Both groups had to control a brain-robot interface for their hands and were then asked to think about moving their hands to operate the apparatus.

The experiment showed that electrical activity between the hand and muscle parts of the brain increased, indicating enhanced communication between the two regions.

The study published in the Journal of Neuroscience concluded that motor function was possible in both groups through the brain-robotic connection, showing that this approach could advance neuro-rehab for stroke patients with paralysis of the hand and possibly other limbs.

Passive exercises, mental practice, electrical stimulation and electroacupuncture are some of the most widely used treatments for regaining mobility after stroke.

While stroke neuro-rehabilitation can help increase chances of recovery, it is not guaranteed to cure paralysis.