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JAMA features NJIT biomedical engineer helping stroke patients
Date:2/8/2011

rokes are the largest cause of disability in adults in the U.S.," Adamovich said. "That's why we feel our research is important. More people than ever survive strokes and live longer lives, but they are hobbled by major disabilities. We would like to see that change and give stroke patients the opportunity to live better lives."

While other researchers around the nation have pursued similar therapies, only a few currently focus on hand functions. Adamovich's team is trying to determine whether it is better to train the hand and arm separately or together.

Two at a time, subjects come to Adamovich's sixth-floor laboratory in Fenster Hall on the NJIT campus. Once there, they spend up to three hours a day, five days a week, for two weeks to play the specialized video games. In one game, their arms are attached to a robot called the Haptic Master. The robot, supporting their weakened arms, enables them to touch virtual spheres, which if done correctly will explode with a satisfying boom. At first glance, the uninitiated might imagine he has stepped into a video arcade. For finger-strengthening exercises, subjects in another room play a simulated piano keyboard on a wall-hung computer screen.

Interestingly, the researchers want subjects as young as 25 and as old as 80. "Age makes no difference when it comes to making improvements," Adamovich adds. Even more surprising, they've had people come to them as many as 15 years past their strokes and make even better progress than individuals six months after the event.

Today's work is based upon a research paper by Adamovich that appeared in 2006: "Sensorimotor training in a virtual reality environment: Does it improve functional recovery post-stroke?" (Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair). The paper detailed an earlier version of what's in his lab today. "We weren't using the kinds of robotic arms that we have now," said Adamovich. "Subjects played computer games u
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Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
sheryl.m.weinstein@njit.edu
973-596-3436
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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