Stroke victim study seeks volunteers

May 3, 2007

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Volunteer and criteria info.
Berna Salman
Vineet Johnson (778-773-1560)

By Julie Ovenell-Carter

A team of SFU kinesiologists is seeking participants for a new study that aims to restore hand and wrist mobility in stroke victims through the use of robotic rehabilitation devices.

The pioneering project is headed by SFU kinesiologist Ted Milner and includes researchers at Imperial College London and the National University of Singapore. It will measure improvements in hand, wrist and finger coordination in post-stroke patients following 16 sessions of rehabilitation therapy using three unique robotic devices. The equipment can be programmed to lead patients through a series of progressive exercises that stimulate the brain to develop new neuronal pathways and help restore lost function.

"There are many potential benefits to this new robotic equipment," says SFU co-investigator Vineet Johnson. "First, it could replace the need for traditional physiotherapy, which is costly and time-consuming.

"Second, it promises to help stroke patients manage simple and necessary tasks such as buttoning a shirt or holding a toothbrush, thereby reducing their dependence on expensive assisted-living facilities. They could look forward to a dramatic improvement in their quality of life."

Ideal study candidates are B.C. residents ages 40 to 80 who have impaired hand use as the result of a stroke in the left side of the brain during the past 10 years. After an initial assessment to determine their level of impairment, 12 suitable subjects will begin an eight-week therapy program. Twice a week, they will visit the research lab at SFU's Burnaby campus to perform a series of hand, finger and wrist exercises on the robotic rehabilitative equipment.

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