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Physical therapists test mechanical arm to help patients recover from stroke, traumatic brain injury
Date:1/27/2009

DALLAS Jan. 28, 2009 Physical therapists at UT Southwestern Medical Center are evaluating a new mechanical arm that allows people recovering from neurological injuries such as strokes and traumatic brain injury to enter a virtual world where they can repeatedly practice movements needed to regain arm strength and movement.

UT Southwestern is one of fewer than a dozen sites testing how the Armeo device, with its virtual environment and weight support system for the arm, stacks up against traditional therapies in which individuals physically pick up objects.

Studies have demonstrated that repetition is key to quicker recovery from neurological injuries, and researchers hope that Armeo's ability to counter gravitational forces will allow patients to perform the required tasks more often than when they are aided by therapists, said Dr. Patricia Smith, professor and vice chair of physical therapy at UT Southwestern.

"If I work with someone for 30 minutes in a traditional program, they might be able to practice five specific tasks three times. We think we can triple that using the Armeo, possibly more, so we're in the process of testing its efficacy," said Dr. Smith, who studies motor recovery and quality of life issues of people recovering from stroke.

Aubrey White is a study participant. She was in dance class, having just completed a successful season on her high-school drill team, when she suffered a stroke four years ago.

"When I first woke up, I was fully paralyzed," she said. "I couldn't feel anything on my right side and I couldn't talk."

Ms. White began her journey to learn to walk and talk again after successful surgery by Dr. Duke Samson, chairman of neurological surgery at UT Southwestern, for arterial venous malformation.

"I have just always seen it as a temporary thing that I have to work through," said the now 21-year-old Texas A&M University student, who lives independently in a second-
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Contact: Russell Rian
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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