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MU study suggests new rehabilitation methods for amputees and stroke patients
Date:3/12/2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. When use of a dominant hand is lost by amputation or stroke, a patient is forced to compensate by using the nondominant hand exclusively for precision tasks like writing or drawing. Presently, the behavioral and neurological effects of chronic, forced use of the nondominant hand are largely understudied and unknown. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have shed light on ways in which a patient compensates when losing a dominant hand and suggest new and improved rehabilitation techniques for those suffering from amputation or stroke.

"Half of the work in our lab focuses on amputees, particularly upper limb amputees, who are out of the acute phase of their recoveries; the other half involves those who have suffered the loss of function due to stroke or neurological disorders," said Scott Frey, professor of psychological sciences and director of the Brain Imaging Center at MU. "Our project analyzed the consequences of losing your dominant hand and how behaviors change for amputees. We also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study brain function in people adapting to those situations. Our hope is that by studying how amputees cope in these circumstances, we can help improve rehabilitation methods and quality of life in patients facing this loss."

In the study, amputees forced to use nondominant hands performed simple drawing tests and were checked for speed and accuracy. Frey and Benjamin Philip, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychological Sciences at MU, found that individuals who were forced to compensate with their nondominant left hands actually performed precision tasks as well as the control group did with their dominant right hands.

The same tests were then conducted under fMRI so that brain function could be observed. Researchers found that the areas formerly devoted to motor and sensory functions of the amputated hand actually contributed to compensation for th
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Contact: Jeff Sossamon
sossamonj@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

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MU study suggests new rehabilitation methods for amputees and stroke patients
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