study, by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and published online in the
New England Journal of Medicine, offers the strongest evidence yet that stroke
sufferers can regain limb movement long after an injury, through "intensive
therapy with specially trained personnel and newly created robotic aids," the
Those who underwent 12 weeks of therapy using the robotic device reported
statistically significant improvements in their quality of life, and greater
improvements in their upper-limb function compared with those receiving usual
care, the researchers found.
The patients in the robot-assisted therapy group were seated at a table with
their stroke-affected arm attached to the device, and were prompted to move a
cursor on a screen.
The robot sensed if they had trouble performing
the task, and assisted their movements. These assisted body movements helped
the stroke-damaged brain learn to compensate for the lost function and begin
to "rewire" itself, the study authors explained in a news release from Brown
"There are about 6.4 million stroke patients in
the U.S. with chronic deficits. We have shown with the right therapy, they
can see improvements in movement, everyday function and quality of life," Lo
added. "This is giving stroke survivors new hope."
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