Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Robotic treadmill training helps retrain brain, improves walking

30.11.2005


People who have suffered partial paralysis from spinal-cord injury show increased activity in the part of the brain responsible for muscle movement and motor learning after 12 weeks of training on a robotic treadmill, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

Their study, which is currently online and will be published in the December issue of the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, is the first to demonstrate that locomotor training can promote activation in the parts of the brain involved in walking in spinal-cord injury patients, said lead author Dr. Patricia Winchester, chairwoman of physical therapy at UT Southwestern Allied Health Sciences School. The results suggest that rehabilitation strategies could be designed "based in part upon whether or not they engage the critical areas of the brain necessary for walking," said Dr. Winchester.

Additionally, the findings suggest that a diagnostic technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), used by the researchers to measure the activation of these brain areas, "may be useful in predicting which individuals will benefit from a particular intervention" after spinal-cord injury, Dr. Winchester said.



David Cunniff, one of the study patients, described his improvements as "quite dramatic." He said within about a month of training on the robotic treadmill, he stood up out of his wheelchair for the first time. "I had no idea I’d be able to do that," he said. Prior to the training, he could only stand with assistance and could not walk. Today he uses only a cane to move about. "I don’t think I could have ever gotten to the place I am without the Lokomat robotic device and UT Southwestern," Mr. Cunniff said.

The study followed four spinal-cord injury patients with varying degrees of paralysis. All underwent rehabilitation therapy using a computerized treadmill called the Lokomat Driven Gait Orthosis. The device supports the weight of the patient in a harness, while robotic devices control their limb movements on a treadmill. During training, the patient watches his or her progress on a real-time computer monitor. By providing sensory information to the spinal cord and brain, the device signals the body to step again.

The study participants were assessed before and after completion of the treadmill training with fMRI. Pictures of blood flow in the brain during body movement were compared to fMRI images taken when the patients were at rest.

After training, those patients who showed the most progress in completing a simple task - flexing their ankles - showed increased activity in the portion of their brains called the cerebellum while undergoing fMRI. However, only those patients who showed a "substantial" change in the cerebellum during the task improved their ability to walk.

Of the four patients, Mr. Cunniff and another man who could walk with a cane after the training had the greatest changes in activation of the cerebellum. Prior to training, the second man required a walker, a brace and physical assistance to walk.

Of the other two patients, one was able to walk with a walker and some physical assistance after the 12-week Lokomat training. Before the training, he had been unable to walk or stand. The fourth patient could not walk before or after training, but nonetheless showed some increased brain activation - but not in the cerebellum - after using the Lokomat.

"The study suggests that the cerebellum plays an important role in recovery of walking," said Dr. Winchester.

The researchers have now enrolled more than 25 study patients. The next step in the research is to use single positron emission computerized tomography (SPECT) to look at the patient’s blood flow in the brain during the performance of a task. SPECT involves the administration of a radioactive dye that migrates to the patient’s brain and produces a three-dimensional image of hot spots of brain activity.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Roderick McColl, associate professor of radiology; Dr. Ross Querry, assistant professor of physical therapy; Nathan Foreman and James Mosby, faculty associates in physical therapy; Dr. Keith Tansey, assistant professor of neurology and physical medicine and rehabilitation and director of the Southwestern Spinal Cord Injury Program; and Dr. Jon Williamson, professor of physical therapy.

The study was supported in part by the Western Rehabilitation Research Network.

Connie Piloto | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>