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MIT robot may accelerate trials for stroke medications
Date:2/11/2014

further pursue or abandon a certain drug. If, after 240 patients, a drug has no measurable effect, the company can pursue other therapeutic avenues. If, however, a drug improves performance in 240 robot-measured patients, the pharmaceutical company can continue investing in the trial with confidence that the drug will ultimately pass muster.

The researchers have published their results in the journal Stroke.

Creating a translator for stroke recovery

In their study, Krebs and his colleagues explored the robot MIT-Manus as a tool for evaluating patient improvement over time. The robot, developed by the team at MIT's Newman Laboratory for Biomechanics and Human Rehabilitation, has mainly been used as a rehabilitation tool: Patients play a video game by maneuvering the robot's arm, with the robot assisting as needed.

While the robot has mainly been used as a form of physical therapy, Krebs says it can also be employed as a measurement tool. As a patient moves the robot's arm, the robot collects motion data, including the patient's arm speed, movement smoothness, and aim. For the current study, the researchers collected such data from 208 patients who worked with the robot seven days after suffering a stroke, and continued to do so for three months.

The researchers created an artificial neural network map that relates a patient's motion data to a score that correlates with a standard clinical outcome measurement.

The authors then selected a separate group of nearly 3,000 stroke patients who did not use the robot, but who went through standard clinical tests. In particular, the researchers calculated the "effect size" the difference in patient performance from the beginning to the end of a trial, divided by the standard deviation, or variability, of improvement among these patients. To determine whether a drug works, the FDA will often look to a study's effect size.

Using the robot-derived
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Contact: Abby Abazorius
abbya@mit.edu
617-253-2709
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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