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by Keyword: Rehabilitation

English C, Ceravolo MG, Dorsch S, Drummond A, Gandhi DBC, Halliday Green J, Schelfaut B, Verschure P, Urimubenshi G, Savitz S, (2022). Telehealth for rehabilitation and recovery after stroke: State of the evidence and future directions International Journal Of Stroke 17, 487-493

Aims: The aim of this rapid review and opinion paper is to present the state of the current evidence and present future directions for telehealth research and clinical service delivery for stroke rehabilitation. Methods: We conducted a rapid review of published trials in the field. We searched Medline using key terms related to stroke rehabilitation and telehealth or virtual care. We also searched clinical trial registers to identify key ongoing trials. Results: The evidence for telehealth to deliver stroke rehabilitation interventions is not strong and is predominantly based on small trials prone to Type 2 error. To move the field forward, we need to progress to trials of implementation that include measures of adoption and reach, as well as effectiveness. We also need to understand which outcome measures can be reliably measured remotely, and/or develop new ones. We present tools to assist with the deployment of telehealth for rehabilitation after stroke. Conclusion: The current, and likely long-term, pandemic means that we cannot wait for stronger evidence before implementing telehealth. As a research and clinical community, we owe it to people living with stroke internationally to investigate the best possible telehealth solutions for providing the highest quality rehabilitation.

JTD Keywords: rehabilitation, telehealth, Care, Feasibility, Rehabilitation, Telehealth, Trial, Virtual care


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


Ballester BR, Ward NS, Brander F, Maier M, Kelly K, Verschure PFMJ, (2022). Relationship between intensity and recovery in post-stroke rehabilitation: a retrospective analysis Journal Of Neurology Neurosurgery And Psychiatry 93, 226-228

[No abstract available]

JTD Keywords: Hemiplegia, Rehabilitation, Stroke, Stroke recovery


McGill, Kris, Sackley, Catherine, Godwin, Jon, Gavaghan, David, Ali, Myzoon, Ballester, Belen Rubio, Brady, Marian C, Brady, M.C, Ali, M, Ashburn, A, Barer, D, Barzel, A, Bernhardt, J, Bowen, A, Drummond, A, Edmans, J, English, C, Gladman, J, Godecke, E, Hiekkala, S, Hoffman, T, Kalra, L, Kuys, S, Langhorne, P, Laska, A.C, Lees, K, Logan, P, Machner, B, Mead, G, Morris, J, Pandyan, A, Pollock, A, Pomeroy, V, Rodgers, H, Sackley, C, Shaw, L, Stott, D.J, Sunnerhagen, K.S, Tyson, S, van Vliet, P, Walker, M, Whiteley, W, (2022). Using the Barthel Index and modified Rankin Scale as Outcome Measures for Stroke Rehabilitation Trials; A Comparison of Minimum Sample Size Requirements Journal Of Stroke & Cerebrovascular Diseases 31, 106229

Underpowered trials risk inaccurate results. Recruitment to stroke rehabilitation randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is often a challenge. Statistical simulations offer an important opportunity to explore the adequacy of sample sizes in the context of specific outcome measures. We aimed to examine and compare the adequacy of stroke rehabilitation RCT sample sizes using the Barthel Index (BI) or modified Rankin Scale (mRS) as primary outcomes.We conducted computer simulations using typical experimental event rates (EER) and control event rates (CER) based on individual participant data (IPD) from stroke rehabilitation RCTs. Event rates are the proportion of participants who experienced clinically relevant improvements in the RCT experimental and control groups. We examined minimum sample size requirements and estimated the number of participants required to achieve a number needed to treat within clinically acceptable boundaries for the BI and mRS.We secured 2350 IPD (18 RCTs). For a 90% chance of statistical accuracy on the BI a rehabilitation RCT would require 273 participants per randomised group. Accurate interpretation of effect sizes would require 1000s of participants per group. Simulations for the mRS were not possible as a clinically relevant improvement was not detected when using this outcome measure.Stroke rehabilitation RCTs with large sample sizes are required for accurate interpretation of effect sizes based on the BI. The mRS lacked sensitivity to detect change and thus may be unsuitable as a primary outcome in stroke rehabilitation trials.Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords:  , barthel index, design, increasing value, modified rankin scale, randomised controlled trials, recruitment, reducing waste, reliability, sample size calculations, simulations, stroke rehabilitation, Adult, Article, Barthel index, Calculation, Computer simulation, Controlled study, Effect size, Female, Human, Human experiment, Major clinical study, Male, Modified rankin scale, Numbers needed to treat, Outcome assessment, Randomised controlled trials, Randomized controlled trial, Randomized controlled-trials, Rankin scale, Recruitment, Rehabilitation, Sample size, Sample size calculations, Simulations, Stroke rehabilitation


Ballester, BR, Antenucci, F, Maier, M, Coolen, ACC, Verschure, PFMJ, (2021). Estimating upper-extremity function from kinematics in stroke patients following goal-oriented computer-based training Journal Of Neuroengineering And Rehabilitation 18,

Introduction: After a stroke, a wide range of deficits can occur with varying onset latencies. As a result, assessing impairment and recovery are enormous challenges in neurorehabilitation. Although several clinical scales are generally accepted, they are time-consuming, show high inter-rater variability, have low ecological validity, and are vulnerable to biases introduced by compensatory movements and action modifications. Alternative methods need to be developed for efficient and objective assessment. In this study, we explore the potential of computer-based body tracking systems and classification tools to estimate the motor impairment of the more affected arm in stroke patients. Methods: We present a method for estimating clinical scores from movement parameters that are extracted from kinematic data recorded during unsupervised computer-based rehabilitation sessions. We identify a number of kinematic descriptors that characterise the patients' hemiparesis (e.g., movement smoothness, work area), we implement a double-noise model and perform a multivariate regression using clinical data from 98 stroke patients who completed a total of 191 sessions with RGS. Results: Our results reveal a new digital biomarker of arm function, the Total Goal-Directed Movement (TGDM), which relates to the patients work area during the execution of goal-oriented reaching movements. The model's performance to estimate FM-UE scores reaches an accuracy of R-2: 0.38 with an error (sigma: 12.8). Next, we evaluate its reliability (r = 0.89 for test-retest), longitudinal external validity (95% true positive rate), sensitivity, and generalisation to other tasks that involve planar reaching movements (R-2: 0.39). The model achieves comparable accuracy also for the Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory (R-2: 0.40) and Barthel Index (R-2: 0.35). Conclusions: Our results highlight the clinical value of kinematic data collected during unsupervised goal-oriented motor training with the RGS combined with data science techniques, and provide new insight into factors underlying recovery and its biomarkers.

JTD Keywords: interactive feedback, motion classification, motion sensing, multivariate regression, posture monitoring, rehabilitation, stroke, Adult, Aged, Analytic method, Arm movement, Article, Barthel index, Brain hemorrhage, Cerebrovascular accident, Chedoke arm and hand activity inventory, Clinical protocol, Cognitive defect, Computer analysis, Controlled study, Convergent validity, Correlation coefficient, Disease severity, External validity, Female, Fugl meyer assessment for the upper extremity, Functional assessment, Functional status assessment, General health status assessment, Hemiparesis, Human, Interactive feedback, Ischemic stroke, Kinematics, Major clinical study, Male, Mini mental state examination, Motion classification, Motion sensing, Motor analog scale, Movement, Multivariate regression, Muscle function, Posture monitoring, Probability, Recovery, Rehabilitation, Reliability, Retrospective study, Stroke, Stroke patient, Test retest reliability, Therapy, Total goal directed movement, Upper extremities, Upper limb, Upper-limb, Wolf motor function test


Castillo-Escario, Yolanda, Kumru, Hatice, Ferrer-Lluis, Ignasi, Vidal, Joan, Jané, Raimon, (2021). Detection of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury Using a Smartphone Sensors 21,

Patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) have an increased risk of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which can lead to serious comorbidities and impact patients’ recovery and quality of life. However, sleep tests are rarely performed on SCI patients, given their multiple health needs and the cost and complexity of diagnostic equipment. The objective of this study was to use a novel smartphone system as a simple non-invasive tool to monitor SDB in SCI patients. We recorded pulse oximetry, acoustic, and accelerometer data using a smartphone during overnight tests in 19 SCI patients and 19 able-bodied controls. Then, we analyzed these signals with automatic algorithms to detect desaturation, apnea, and hypopnea events and monitor sleep position. The apnea–hypopnea index (AHI) was significantly higher in SCI patients than controls (25 ± 15 vs. 9 ± 7, p < 0.001). We found that 63% of SCI patients had moderate-to-severe SDB (AHI ? 15) in contrast to 21% of control subjects. Most SCI patients slept predominantly in supine position, but an increased occurrence of events in supine position was only observed for eight patients. This study highlights the problem of SDB in SCI and provides simple cost-effective sleep monitoring tools to facilitate the detection, understanding, and management of SDB in SCI patients.

JTD Keywords: apnea syndrome, biomedical signal processing, individuals, mhealth, monitoring, nasal resistance, people, position, prevalence, questionnaire, sample, sleep apnea, sleep position, sleep-disordered breathing, smartphone, time, Apnea-hypopnea indices, Biomedical signal processing, Biomedical signals processing, Cost effectiveness, Diagnosis, Mhealth, Monitoring, Noninvasive medical procedures, Oximeters, Oxygen-saturation, Patient rehabilitation, Simple++, Sleep apnea, Sleep position, Sleep research, Sleep-disordered breathing, Smart phones, Smartphone, Smartphones, Spinal cord injury, Spinal cord injury patients


Grechuta, K, Costa, JD, Ballester, BR, Verschure, P, (2021). Challenging the Boundaries of the Physical Self: Distal Cues Impact Body Ownership Frontiers In Human Neuroscience 15,

The unique ability to identify one's own body and experience it as one's own is fundamental in goal-oriented behavior and survival. However, the mechanisms underlying the so-called body ownership are yet not fully understood. Evidence based on Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) paradigms has demonstrated that body ownership is a product of reception and integration of self and externally generated multisensory information, feedforward and feedback processing of sensorimotor signals, and prior knowledge about the body. Crucially, however, these designs commonly involve the processing of proximal modalities while the contribution of distal sensory signals to the experience of ownership remains elusive. Here we propose that, like any robust percept, body ownership depends on the integration and prediction across all sensory modalities, including distal sensory signals pertaining to the environment. To test our hypothesis, we created an embodied goal-oriented Virtual Air Hockey Task, in which participants were to hit a virtual puck into a goal. In two conditions, we manipulated the congruency of distal multisensory cues (auditory and visual) while preserving proximal and action-driven signals entirely predictable. Compared to a fully congruent condition, our results revealed a significant decrease on three dimensions of ownership evaluation when distal signals were incongruent, including the subjective report as well as physiological and kinematic responses to an unexpected threat. Together, these findings support the notion that the way we represent our body is contingent upon all the sensory stimuli, including distal and action-independent signals. The present data extend the current framework of body ownership and may also find applications in rehabilitation scenarios.



JTD Keywords: active perception, body ownership, distal sensory cues, embodied cognition, forward model, Active perception, Adult, Article, Body ownership, Brain, Cortex, Distal sensory cues, Embodied cognition, Feel, Female, Forward model, Hockey, Human, Human experiment, Integration, Male, Models, Neurons, Perception, Peripersonal space, Prediction, Rehabilitation, Rubber hand illusion, Sensory prediction error, Touch


Hirsch T, Barthel M, Aarts P, Chen YA, Freivogel S, Johnson MJ, Jones TA, Jongsma MLA, Maier M, Punt D, Sterr A, Wolf SL, Heise KF, (2021). A First Step Toward the Operationalization of the Learned Non-Use Phenomenon: A Delphi Study Neurorehabilitation And Neural Repair 35, 383-392

© The Author(s) 2021. Background: The negative discrepancy between residual functional capacity and reduced use of the contralesional hand, frequently observed after a brain lesion, has been termed Learned Non-Use (LNU) and is thought to depend on the interaction of neuronal mechanisms during recovery and learning-dependent mechanisms. Objective: Albeit the LNU phenomenon is generally accepted to exist, currently, no transdisciplinary definition exists. Furthermore, although therapeutic approaches are implemented in clinical practice targeting LNU, no standardized diagnostic routine is described in the available literature. Our objective was to reach consensus regarding a definition as well as synthesize knowledge about the current diagnostic procedures. Methods: We used a structured group communication following the Delphi method among clinical and scientific experts in the field, knowledge from both, the work with patient populations and with animal models. Results: Consensus was reached regarding a transdisciplinary definition of the LNU phenomenon. Furthermore, the mode and strategy of the diagnostic process, as well as the sources of information and outcome parameters relevant for the clinical decision making, were described with a wide range showing the current lack of a consistent universal diagnostic approach. Conclusions: The need for the development of a structured diagnostic procedure and its implementation into clinical practice is emphasized. Moreover, it exists a striking gap between the prevailing hypotheses regarding the mechanisms underlying the LNU phenomenon and the actual evidence. Therefore, basic research is needed to bridge between bedside and bench and eventually improve clinical decision making and further development of interventional strategies beyond the field of stroke rehabilitation.

JTD Keywords: diagnosis, experience-dependent non-use, perceptual disorders, rehabilitation, sensorimotor learning, Diagnosis, Experience-dependent non-use, Perceptual disorders, Rehabilitation, Sensorimotor learning


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


Grechuta, K., Rubio Ballester, B., Espín Munne, R., Usabiaga Bernal, T., Molina Hervás, B., Mohr, B., Pulvermüller, F., San Segundo, R., Verschure, P., (2019). Augmented dyadic therapy boosts recovery of language function in patients with nonfluent aphasia Stroke 50, (5), 1270-1274

Background and Purpose- Evidence suggests that therapy can be effective in recovering from aphasia, provided that it consists of socially embedded, intensive training of behaviorally relevant tasks. However, the resources of healthcare systems are often too limited to provide such treatment at sufficient dosage. Hence, there is a need for evidence-based, cost-effective rehabilitation methods. Here, we asked whether virtual reality-based treatment grounded in the principles of use-dependent learning, behavioral relevance, and intensity positively impacts recovery from nonfluent aphasia. Methods- Seventeen patients with chronic nonfluent aphasia underwent intensive therapy in a randomized, controlled, parallel-group trial. Participants were assigned to the control group (N=8) receiving standard treatment or to the experimental group (N=9) receiving augmented embodied therapy with the Rehabilitation Gaming System for aphasia. All Rehabilitation Gaming System for aphasia sessions were supervised by an assistant who monitored the patients but did not offer any elements of standard therapy. Both interventions were matched for intensity and materials. Results- Our results revealed that at the end of the treatment both groups significantly improved on the primary outcome measure (Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination: control group, P=0.04; experimental group, P=0.01), and the secondary outcome measure (lexical access-vocabulary test: control group, P=0.01; experimental group, P=0.007). However, only the Rehabilitation Gaming System for aphasia group improved on the Communicative Aphasia Log ( P=0.01). The follow-up assessment (week 16) demonstrated that while both groups retained vocabulary-related changes (control group, P=0.01; experimental group, P=0.007), only the Rehabilitation Gaming System for aphasia group showed therapy-induced improvements in language ( P=0.01) and communication ( P=0.05). Conclusions- Our results demonstrate the effectiveness of Rehabilitation Gaming System for aphasia for improving language and communication in patients with chronic aphasia suggesting that current challenges faced by the healthcare system in the treatment of stroke might be effectively addressed by augmenting traditional therapy with computer-based methods. Clinical Trial Registration- URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov . Unique identifier: NCT02928822.

JTD Keywords: Aphasia, Embodied training, Neurological rehabilitation, Virtual reality


Maier, Martina, Rubio Ballester, Belén, Duff, Armin, Duarte Oller, Esther, Verschure, P., (2019). Effect of specific over nonspecific VR-based rehabilitation on poststroke motor recovery: A systematic meta-analysis Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 33, (2), 112-129

Background. Despite the rise of virtual reality (VR)-based interventions in stroke rehabilitation over the past decade, no consensus has been reached on its efficacy. This ostensibly puzzling outcome might not be that surprising given that VR is intrinsically neutral to its use—that is, an intervention is effective because of its ability to mobilize recovery mechanisms, not its technology. As VR systems specifically built for rehabilitation might capitalize better on the advantages of technology to implement neuroscientifically grounded protocols, they might be more effective than those designed for recreational gaming. Objective. We evaluate the efficacy of specific VR (SVR) and nonspecific VR (NSVR) systems for rehabilitating upper-limb function and activity after stroke. Methods. We conducted a systematic search for randomized controlled trials with adult stroke patients to analyze the effect of SVR or NSVR systems versus conventional therapy (CT). Results. We identified 30 studies including 1473 patients. SVR showed a significant impact on body function (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 0.23; 95% CI = 0.10 to 0.36; P = .0007) versus CT, whereas NSVR did not (SMD = 0.16; 95% CI = −0.14 to 0.47; P = .30). This result was replicated in activity measures. Conclusions. Our results suggest that SVR systems are more beneficial than CT for upper-limb recovery, whereas NSVR systems are not. Additionally, we identified 6 principles of neurorehabilitation that are shared across SVR systems and are possibly responsible for their positive effect. These findings may disambiguate the contradictory results found in the current literature.

JTD Keywords: Stroke, Paresis, Virtual reality, Rehabilitation, Occupational therapy, Review


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


Rubio Ballester, B., Mura, A., Maier, M., Tobella-Pareja, Laura, Alfayate-Domingo, D., Gimeno-Esteve, M. F., Aguilar, A., Verschure, P., (2019). Adaptive VR-based rehabilitation to prevent deterioration in adults with cerebral palsy Application of VR and Advanced Technology in Pediatric Populations International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation 2019 (ICVR 2019) , ISVR (Tel Aviv, Israel) , 1-7

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disabling life-long condition progressively impeding a patient’s independence. Although incident rates are high, a clear understanding of the disease is missing. CP is characterized by several motor disorders and sensory or perceptive comorbidities. This multifaceted nature complicates proper diagnosis and hampers the search for possible treatments. During adolescence and adulthood, individuals with CP experience a drastic deterioration in gross motor control, independence, and quality of life. There is poor evidence that physical therapy promotes the retention of function through aging, and no clinical studies exist that explore the potential of VRbased training to prevent deterioration. In this pilot randomized controlled trial, we expose 14 adults with CP to the Rehabilitation Gaming System (RGS) and examine its usability, effectiveness, and acceptability. Our results show that the RGS difficulty adaptation algorithm automatically matches the patients' impairment level as captured by clinical scales (Barthel and Box & Blocks). The clinical effectiveness and acceptability of the RGS and conventional therapy were comparable. We conclude that VR-based physical therapy as an adjunct to usual treatment may be a promising approach for the prevention of deterioration in adolescents and adults with CP.

JTD Keywords: Cerebral palsy, Virtual realitY, Motor function, Physical therapy, Rehabilitation


Morales, R., Badesa, F. J., Garcia-Aracil, N., Aranda, J., Casals, A., (2015). Autoadaptive neurorehabilitation robotic system assessment with a post-stroke patient Revista Iberoamericana de Automatica e Informatica Industrial , 12, (1), 92-98

This paper presents a new rehabilitation system that is able to adapt its performance to patient's psychophysiological state during the execution of robotic rehabilitation tasks. Using this approach, the motivation and participation of the patient during rehabilitation activity can be maximized. In this paper, the results of the study with healthy subjects presented in (Badesa et al., 2014b) have been extended for using them with patients who have suffered a stroke. In the first part of the article, the different components of the adaptive system are exposed, as well as a comparison of different machine learning techniques to classify the patient's psychophysiological state between three possible states: stressed, average excitation level and relaxed are presented. Finally, the results of the auto-adaptive system which modifies the behavior of the rehabilitation robot and virtual task in function of measured physiological signals are shown for a patient in the chronic phase of stroke.

JTD Keywords: Physiological state multimodal interfaces rehabilitation robotics control


Rajasekaran, V., Aranda, J., Casals, A., (2015). Compliant gait assistance triggered by user intention Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Milan, Italy) , 3885-3888

An automatic gait initialization strategy based on user intention sensing in the context of rehabilitation with a lower-limb wearable robot is proposed and evaluated. The proposed strategy involves monitoring the human-orthosis interaction torques and initial position deviation to determine the gait initiation instant and to modify orthosis operation for gait assistance, when needed. During gait, the compliant control algorithm relies on the adaptation of the joints' stiffness in function of their interaction torques and their deviation from the desired trajectories, while maintaining the dynamic stability. As a reference input, the average of a set of recorded gaits obtained from healthy subjects is used. The algorithm has been tested with five healthy subjects showing its efficient behavior in initiating the gait and maintaining the equilibrium while walking in presence of external forces. The work is performed as a preliminary study to assist patients suffering from incomplete Spinal cord injury and Stroke.

JTD Keywords: Biomedical monitoring, Exoskeletons, Joints, Knee, Legged locomotion, Trajectory, Exoskeleton, adaptive control, gait assistance, gait initiation, rehabilitation, wearable robot


Urra, O., Casals, A., Jané, R., (2014). Evaluating spatial characteristics of upper-limb movements from EMG signals IFMBE Proceedings XIII Mediterranean Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing 2013 (ed. Roa Romero, Laura M.), Springer International Publishing (London, UK) 41, 1795-1798

Stroke is a major cause of disability, usually causing hemiplegic damage on the motor abilities of the patient. Stroke rehabilitation seeks restoring normal motion on the affected limb. However, normality’ of movements is usually assessed by clinical and functional tests, without considering how the motor system responds to therapy. We hypothesized that electromyographic (EMG) recordings could provide useful information for evaluating the outcome of rehabilitation from a neuromuscular perspective. Four healthy subjects were asked to perform 14 different functional movements simulating the action of reaching over a table. Each movement was defined according to the starting and target positions that the subject had to connect using linear trajectories. Bipolar recordings of EMG signals were taken from biceps and triceps muscles, and spectral and temporal characteristics were extracted for each movement. Using pattern recognition techniques we found that only two EMG channels were sufficient to accurately determine the spatial characteristics of motor activity: movement direction, length and execution zone. Our results suggest that muscles may fire in a patterned way depending on the specific characteristics of the movement and that EMG signals may codify such detailed information. These findings may be of great value to quantitatively assess post-stroke rehabilitation and to compare the neuromuscular activity of the affected and unaffected limbs, from a physiological perspective. Furthermore, disturbed movements could be characterized in terms of the muscle function to identify, which is the spatial characteristic that fails, e.g. movement direction, and guide personalized rehabilitation to enhance the training of such characteristic.

JTD Keywords: EMG, Movement spatial characteristics, Pattern recognition, Stroke rehabilitation, Upper-limb


Antelis, J.M., Montesano, L., Giralt, X., Casals, A., Minguez, J., (2012). Detection of movements with attention or distraction to the motor task during robot-assisted passive movements of the upper limb Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (San Diego, USA) , 6410-6413

Robot-assisted rehabilitation therapies usually focus on physical aspects rather than on cognitive factors. However, cognitive aspects such as attention, motivation, and engagement play a critical role in motor learning and thus influence the long-term success of rehabilitation programs. This paper studies motor-related EEG activity during the execution of robot-assisted passive movements of the upper limb, while participants either: i) focused attention exclusively on the task; or ii) simultaneously performed another task. Six healthy subjects participated in the study and results showed lower desynchronization during passive movements with another task simultaneously being carried out (compared to passive movements with exclusive attention on the task). In addition, it was proved the feasibility to distinguish between the two conditions.

JTD Keywords: Electrodes, Electroencephalography, Induction motors, Medical treatment, Robot sensing systems, Time frequency analysis, Biomechanics, Cognition, Electroencephalography, Medical robotics, Medical signal detection, Medical signal processing, Patient rehabilitation, Attention, Cognitive aspects, Desynchronization, Engagement, Motivation, Motor learning, Motor task, Motor-related EEG activity, Physical aspects, Robot-assisted passive movement detection, Robot-assisted rehabilitation therapies, Upper limb


Amigo, L. E., Fernandez, Q., Giralt, X., Casals, A., Amat, J., (2012). Study of patient-orthosis interaction forces in rehabilitation therapies IEEE Conference Publications 4th IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob) , IEEE (Roma, Italy) , 1098-1103

The design of mechanical joints that kinematically behave as their biological counterparts is a challenge that if not addressed properly can cause inadequate forces transmission between robot and patient. This paper studies the interaction forces in rehabilitation therapies of the elbow joint. To measure the effect of orthosis-patient misalignments, a force sensor with a novel distributed architecture has been designed and used for this study. A test-bed based on an industrial robot acting as a virtual exoskeleton that emulates the action of a therapist has been developed and the interaction forces analyzed.

JTD Keywords: Force, Force measurement, Force sensors, Joints, Medical treatment, Robot sensing systems, Force sensors, Medical robotics, Patient rehabilitation, Biological counterparts, Distributed architecture, Elbow joint, Force sensor, Inadequate forces transmission, Industrial robot, Mechanical joints design, Orthosis-patient misalignments, Patient-orthosis interaction forces, Rehabilitation therapies, Robot, Test-bed, Virtual exoskeleton