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Publications

by Keyword: Neurorehabilitation

Ballester BR, Winstein C, Schweighofer N, (2022). Virtuous and Vicious Cycles of Arm Use and Function Post-stroke Frontiers In Neurology 13, 804211

Large doses of movement practice have been shown to restore upper extremities' motor function in a significant subset of individuals post-stroke. However, such large doses are both difficult to implement in the clinic and highly inefficient. In addition, an important reduction in upper extremity function and use is commonly seen following rehabilitation-induced gains, resulting in “rehabilitation in vain”. For those with mild to moderate sensorimotor impairment, the limited spontaneous use of the more affected limb during activities of daily living has been previously proposed to cause a decline of motor function, initiating a vicious cycle of recovery, in which non-use and poor performance reinforce each other. Here, we review computational, experimental, and clinical studies that support the view that if arm use is raised above an effective threshold, one enters a virtuous cycle in which arm use and function can reinforce each other via self-practice in the wild. If not, one enters a vicious cycle of declining arm use and function. In turn, and in line with best practice therapy recommendations, this virtuous/vicious cycle model advocates for a paradigm shift in neurorehabilitation whereby rehabilitation be embedded in activities of daily living such that self-practice with the aid of wearable technology that reminds and motivates can enhance paretic limb use of those who possess adequate residual sensorimotor capacity. Altogether, this model points to a user-centered approach to recovery post-stroke that is tailored to the participant's level of arm use and designed to motivate and engage in self-practice through progressive success in accomplishing meaningful activities in the wild. Copyright © 2022 Ballester, Winstein and Schweighofer.

JTD Keywords: compensatory movement, computational neurorehabilitation, decision-making, individuals, learned non-use, learned nonuse, monkeys, neurorehabilitation, recovery, rehabilitation, stroke patients, wearable sensors, wrist, Arm movement, Article, Cerebrovascular accident, Clinical decision making, Clinical practice, Clinical study, Compensatory movement, Computational neurorehabilitation, Computer model, Daily life activity, Decision-making, Experimental study, Human, Induced movement therapy, Learned non-use, Musculoskeletal function, Neurorehabilitation, Paresis, Sensorimotor function, Stroke, Stroke rehabilitation, User-centered design, Vicious cycle, Virtuous cycle, Wearable sensors


Wiers RW, Verschure P, (2021). Curing the broken brain model of addiction: Neurorehabilitation from a systems perspective Addictive Behaviors 112,

© 2020 The Author(s) The dominant biomedical perspective on addictions has been that they are chronic brain diseases. While we acknowledge that the brains of people with addictions differ from those without, we argue that the “broken brain” model of addiction has important limitations. We propose that a systems-level perspective more effectively captures the integrated architecture of the embodied and situated human mind and brain in relation to the development of addictions. This more dynamic conceptualization places addiction in the broader context of the addicted brain that drives behavior, where the addicted brain is the substrate of the addicted mind, that in turn is situated in a physical and socio-cultural environment. From this perspective, neurorehabilitation should shift from a “broken-brain” to a systems theoretical framework, which includes high-level concepts related to the physical and social environment, motivation, self-image, and the meaning of alternative activities, which in turn will dynamically influence subsequent brain adaptations. We call this integrated approach system-oriented neurorehabilitation. We illustrate our proposal by showing the link between addiction and the architecture of the embodied brain, including a systems-level perspective on classical conditioning, which has been successfully translated into neurorehabilitation. Central to this example is the notion that the human brain makes predictions on future states as well as expected (or counterfactual) errors, in the context of its goals. We advocate system-oriented neurorehabilitation of addiction where the patients' goals are central in targeted, personalized assessment and intervention.

JTD Keywords: addiction, brain disease model, neurorehabilitation, Addiction, Brain disease model, Neurorehabilitation, Systems approach


De la Torre Costa J, Ballester BR, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). A Rehabilitation Wearable Device to Overcome Post-stroke Learned Non-use. Methodology, Design and Usability Communications In Computer And Information Science 1538 CCIS, 198-205

After a stroke, a great number of patients experience persistent motor impairments such as hemiparesis or weakness in one entire side of the body. As a result, the lack of use of the paretic limb might be one of the main contributors to functional loss after clinical discharge. We aim to reverse this cycle by promoting the use of the paretic limb during activities of daily living (ADLs). To do so, we describe the key components of a system composed of a wearable bracelet (i.e., a smartwatch) and a mobile phone, designed to bring a set of neurorehabilitation principles that promote acquisition, retention and generalization of skills to the home of the patient. A fundamental question is whether the loss in motor function derived from learned–non–use may emerge as a consequence of decision–making processes for motor optimization. Our system is based on well-established rehabilitation strategies that aim to reverse this behaviour by increasing the reward associated with action execution and implicitly reducing the expected cost of using the paretic limb, following the notion of reinforcement–induced movement therapy (RIMT). Here we validate an accelerometer-based measure of arm use and its capacity to discriminate different activities that require increasing movement of the arm. The usability and acceptance of the device as a rehabilitation tool is tested using a battery of self–reported and objective measurements obtained from acute/subacute patients and healthy controls. We believe that an extension of these technologies will allow for the deployment of unsupervised rehabilitation paradigms during and beyond hospitalization time. © 2021, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

JTD Keywords: Activities of daily living, Adls, Functional loss, Generalisation, Hemiparesis, Learned non-use, Motor impairments, Neurorehabilitation [], Patient experiences, Stroke, Wearable devices, Wearable technology, Wearables


Maier, Martina, Ballester, Belén Rubio, Verschure, P., (2019). Principles of neurorehabilitation after stroke based on motor learning and brain plasticity mechanisms Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 13, 74

What are the principles underlying effective neurorehabilitation? The aim of neurorehabilitation is to exploit interventions based on human and animal studies about learning and adaptation, as well as to show that the activation of experience-dependent neuronal plasticity augments functional recovery after stroke. Instead of teaching compensatory strategies that do not reduce impairment but allow the patient to return home as soon as possible, functional recovery might be more sustainable as it ensures a long-term reduction in impairment and an improvement in quality of life. At the same time, neurorehabilitation permits the scientific community to collect valuable data, which allows inferring about the principles of brain organization. Hence neuroscience sheds light on the mechanisms of learning new functions or relearning lost ones. However, current rehabilitation methods lack the exact operationalization of evidence gained from skill learning literature, leading to an urgent need to bridge motor learning theory and present clinical work in order to identify a set of ingredients and practical applications that could guide future interventions. This work aims to unify the neuroscientific literature relevant to the recovery process and rehabilitation practice in order to provide a synthesis of the principles that constitute an effective neurorehabilitation approach. Previous attempts to achieve this goal either focused on a subset of principles or did not link clinical application to the principles of motor learning and recovery. We identified 15 principles of motor learning based on existing literature: massed practice, spaced practice, dosage, task-specific practice, goal-oriented practice, variable practice, increasing difficulty, multisensory stimulation, rhythmic cueing, explicit feedback/knowledge of results, implicit feedback/knowledge of performance, modulate effector selection, action observation/embodied practice, motor imagery, and social interaction. We comment on trials that successfully implemented these principles and report evidence from experiments with healthy individuals as well as clinical work.

JTD Keywords: Neurorehabilitation, Motor learning, Plasticity, Stroke, Principles


Ballester, B. R., Maier, M., Duff, A., Cameirão, M., Bermúdez, S., Duarte, E., Cuxart, A., Rodríguez, S., San Segundo Mozo, R. M., Verschure, P., (2019). A critical time window for recovery extends beyond one-year post-stroke Journal of neurophysiology Journal of Neurophysiology , 122, (1), 350-357

The impact of rehabilitation on post-stroke motor recovery and its dependency on the patient's chronicity remain unclear. The field has widely accepted the notion of a proportional recovery rule with a "critical window for recovery" within the first 3-6 mo poststroke. This hypothesis justifies the general cessation of physical therapy at chronic stages. However, the limits of this critical window have, so far, been poorly defined. In this analysis, we address this question, and we further explore the temporal structure of motor recovery using individual patient data from a homogeneous sample of 219 individuals with mild to moderate upper-limb hemiparesis. We observed that improvement in body function and structure was possible even at late chronic stages. A bootstrapping analysis revealed a gradient of enhanced sensitivity to treatment that extended beyond 12 mo poststroke. Clinical guidelines for rehabilitation should be revised in the context of this temporal structure. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Previous studies in humans suggest that there is a 3- to 6-mo "critical window" of heightened neuroplasticity poststroke. We analyze the temporal structure of recovery in patients with hemiparesis and uncover a precise gradient of enhanced sensitivity to treatment that expands far beyond the limits of the so-called critical window. These findings highlight the need for providing therapy to patients at the chronic and late chronic stages.

JTD Keywords: Motor recovery, Neuroplasticity, Neurorehabilitation, Stroke recovery, Virtual reality