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MRI-Compatible Stroke Rehabilitation Device Links Brain and Muscles
The repetitive facilitation exercise (RFE) is a common rehabilitation tactic for stroke patients attempting to regain wrist movement. Stroke hemiparesis individuals are not able to move that part of their body because they cannot create a strong enough neural signal that travels from the brain to the wrist. With RFE, patients are asked to think about moving and at the same time, a practitioner flexes the wrist. The goal is to send a long latency response from the stretch that arrives in the brain at the exact time the thought happens, creating a neural signal. The result is a strong, combined response that zips back to the forearm muscles and moves the wrist. "??Timing is everything. It"s not easy for two people to match each other,"?%9D says Georgia Institute of Technology master"s graduate Lauren Lacey. The Georgia Tech team has created a mechanical device that takes people out of the process, replacing them with accurate computers. Their functional MRI-compatible hemiparesis rehab device creates a long latency stretch reflex at the exact time as a brain signal. A pneumatic actuator tendon hammer hits a person's wrist while a transcranial magnetic stimulator creates a weak signal in the brain's motor cortex. Because the machine is MRI-compatible, it will allow the team to study what is happening in the brain during rehab, opening the door for robotics.
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