Brain-training device that combines a high-tech brain-computer interface with electrical stimulation of the damaged muscles may ease stroke paralysis, a study suggests.
The device help patients relearn how to move frozen limbs was tested on eight patients who had lost movement in one hand. After six weeks of therapy with the device, the subjects reported improvements in their ability to complete daily tasks such as combing their hair and buttoning their shirt.
According to the study author, Dr. Vivek Prabhakaran, director of functional neuroimaging in radiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the patients who are months and years out from their strokes there is a room for change and a plasticity research can harness.
To use the device, patients wear a cap of electrodes that picks up brain signals. Those signals are decoded by a computer. The computer, in turn, sends tiny jolts of electricity through wires to sticky pads placed on the muscles of a patient's paralyzed arm. The jolts act like nerve impulses, telling the muscles to move.
The positive brain changes remained even a month after patients had finished therapy. Researchers believe that maintenance sessions may be necessary to help people keep their gains.
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