Abstract: Robot-assisted therapy is on the
cutting edge of stroke rehabilitation and is a therapy method that promises to
improve the lives of persons with disabilities due to stroke. Preliminary studies using robotic tools
provide mixed evidence for their effectiveness and reveal limitations. There is a need to study the stroke recovery
process and to understand how to optimize robot-assisted therapies in order to
enhance patient rehabilitation and improve functional outcomes. Imaging techniques such as functional
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) can assist
us in understanding the stroke recovery process, in determining who may benefit
from robot-assisted training, and in defining how training induced functional
cortical changes occur after robot training.
We are conducting an interventional study plus control to assess the
effectiveness of robot-assisted practice of tasks with skilled functional
tasks. We assess the ability of
active-assisted reaching and grasping training to effect immediate gains and
long-term functional improvements in unilateral and bilateral motor control. Using fMRI and DTI, we associate changes seen
in motor impairment levels and functional task performance levels with white
matter injuries and connectivity and changes in oxygen utilization in the motor
cortex as well as other areas of the brain.
This talk will present insights from case studies with stroke survivors
that help us understand motor and brain changes after stroke.