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Title: Closed-loop stimulation for upper limb rehabilitation following spinal cord injury and stroke
Authors: Hodkin, Edmund Francis
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Innovation is required to improve upper limb rehabilitation for neurological conditions such as stroke and spinal cord injury (SCI). There is growing appreciation of the importance of neural plasticity in recovery, and how this can be facilitated by synchronous activity in peripheral neural circuits and central brain areas. However, despite increasing scientific evidence, technological solutions that exploit associative plasticity have not yet been widely evaluated in clinical practice. In this thesis, I report the development and initial evaluation of a novel device which enabled a reaching and grasping motion in the affected limb by combining assistive functional electrical stimulation (FES) with inferred voluntary brain activity. The device was designed to enable translation from laboratory-to-clinic by overcoming common practical barriers to translational research, such as adaptability and ease of use. The device was demonstrated to be usable by individuals with either chronic stroke or SCI, and received positive qualitative feedback. Some participants showed modest improvements on assessments of upper limb function following a short intervention period. A study with healthy able-bodied volunteers indicated that after using the device, corticospinal pathways to the antagonist (flexor) muscle may be facilitated, and this facilitation might be increased by adjusting the relative timing of stimulation and inferred brain activity. The device could also deliver alternative stimulation techniques, and an exploratory study into transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) was conducted with healthy able-bodied volunteers. It was found that tSCS may activate peripheral and spinal pathways within acceptable comfort levels, but the parameters used in this study did not to generate functional contractions. An unexpected oscillatory motor response provided insights into how tSCS acts upon the motor system. Prior to a large scale evaluation of clinical effectiveness, further research is required to: further develop a theoretical basis for the intervention; demonstrate the mechanisms of action; and to evaluate the efficacy of the device.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Institute of Neuroscience

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