Ro­bots lead stroke re­cov­ery

Joondalup Weekender - - News - Tyler Brown

PAR­TIC­I­PANTS are needed for a study be­ing held in ECU Joon­dalup’s re­cently es­tab­lished lab­o­ra­tory that fo­cuses on un­rav­el­ling the mys­ter­ies of the hu­man brain.

Neu­ro­sci­en­tist Dy­lan Ed­wards, who has pre­vi­ously worked at Har­vard Med­i­cal School in the US and has now joined ECU as a Pro­fes­so­rial Re­search Fel­low, was the driv­ing force be­hind the Neu­roRe­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and Ro­bot­ics Lab­o­ra­tory.

His re­search fo­cuses on im­prov­ing the re­cov­ery process for peo­ple who have suf­fered neu­ro­log­i­cal dam­age.

“I’m in­ter­ested how we can use spe­cially de­signed ro­bots to im­prove the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of peo­ple who have suf­fered from a stroke or a spinal in­jury,” he said.

“The best way to help some­one re­gain some move­ment fol­low­ing a stroke or spinal in­jury is to have them re­peat move­ments over and over again to re­learn the mo­tions us­ing their avail­able ca­pac­ity.

“The ad­van­tage ro­bot­ics of­fers is that ro­bots can as­sist with per­form­ing the same pre­cise move­ments with the pa­tient thou­sands of times with­out get­ting tired.”

This has led to ECU ac­quir­ing the only KinArm Ex­oskele­ton robot in Aus­tralia.

The $300,000 ma­chine com­bines ro­bot­ics and vir­tual re­al­ity that en­ables re­searchers to ob­serve brain func­tion through the move­ments of a pa­tient’s arms more ac­cu­rately than any hu­man could.

“This al­lows us to ex­am­ine how some­one is mov­ing in a much more de­tailed way, al­low­ing us to de­sign more tar­geted re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams for pa­tients,” Pro­fes­sor Ed­wards said.

“Giv­ing some­one even a small amount of move­ment back af­ter they have suf­fered neu­ro­log­i­cal dam­age can be ex­tremely pow­er­ful.”

Pro­fes­sor Ed­wards is work­ing with Onno van der Groen, Ken Nosaka and Manon­ita Ghosh to see if they can im­prove re­cov­ery of a stroke suf­ferer’s af­fected arm by train­ing their good arm.

Dr van der Groen said they were re­cruit­ing is­chaemic (a stroke due to an block­age rather than a bleed) chronic stroke sur­vivors with a hemi­pare­sis (weak­ness of the arm) as well as healthy par­tic­i­pants to serve as a con­trol group.

Con­tact Dr Ghosh at [email protected] or call 6304 2341.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey­mu­ni­ d486941

Re­search fel­low Dr Onno van der Groen and Pro­fes­sor Ken Nosaka with the Kinarm robot.

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