Stroke Machine Helps Recover Movement

Why the heck am I telling you that?! Well, for those of you who followed the Healing blog series and who’ve read my Healing Plan, you’ll know that I say brain retraining to get your body to see food or a chemical as ‘safe’ again takes real time and commitment – like a stroke survivor doing repeated, tiny movements to build a new neural pathway and get movement back. I see us like that.

Notice in this piece that they had to get the participants to do the work for two hours a day for 12 weeks. I’m using that to illustrate how much you need to do the brain retraining! It might take longer than that, or shorter, but you can see there the dedication and commitment level you need to put in! Sorry, but that’s the truth of the matter.

If you are trying to retrain your brain to perceive things differently, you need to constantly show it the new pathway to get that pathway built! More in the Healing Plan on how to do it precisely etc.


10s of 1000s of stroke patients left with disabilities have been offered new hope after scientists proved it is possible to retrain the undamaged side of the brain to move paralysed limbs.  Around 100,000 people suffer a stroke each year in Britain & two thirds of the 60,000 survivors will leave hospital with a disability.   Although many are offered rehabilitation, often the damage is too extensive.    US Scientists have invented a device which retrains the undamaged side of the brain to take over the tasks of the damaged part.   “We have shown that a brain-computer interface using the uninjured hemisphere can achieve meaningful recovery in chronic stroke patients,” saidProf Eric Leuthardt

In general, the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body & vice versa but about 10 years ago, Prof Leuthardt  & Dr David Bundy discovered that a small area of the brain on the same side of the limb sends the first ‘movement’ signal.   They theorised that if they could harness & amplify that initial signal, they could use it to control movement in a paralysed limb.

The new device comprises of a cap containing electrodes to pick up the brain signal & send it to a moveable brace on the arm. The device detects the wearer’s intention to open or close the paralyzed hand, & moves it accordingly.  The device detects electrical signals in the uninjured part of the brain & opens & closes a plastic brace fitted onto the paralysed hand.   By doing so, it helps train the uninjured brain areas to take over functions previously performed by injured areas.

Over time, the brain starts to link the signal to movements in the hand & forms new connections so that the process can happen without the brace.  The team selected 10 patients who were still suffering significant paralysis 6 months on from their stroke. They were invited to use the device for up to 2 hours a day for 12 weeks.  At the end of the study their ability to grasp objects was far better & the patients’ movement scores increased an average of 6.2 points on a 57-point scale.

“An increase of 6 points represents a meaningful improvement in quality of life,” added Prof Leuthardt.   

Published in the journal ‘Stroke.’

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