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[Abstract] Effects of an Exercise Protocol for Improving Handgrip Strength and Walking Speed on Cognitive Function in Patients with Chronic Stroke

BACKGROUND: Handgrip strength and walking speed predict and influence cognitive function. We aimed to investigate an exercise protocol for improving handgrip strength and walking speed, applied to patients with chronic stroke who had cognitive function disorder.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Twenty-nine patients with cognitive function disorder participated in this study, and were randomly divided into one of two groups: exercise group (n=14) and control group (n=15). Both groups underwent conventional physical therapy for 60 minutes per day. Additionally, the exercise group followed an exercise protocol for handgrip using the hand exerciser, power web exerciser, Digi-Flex (15 minutes); and treadmill-based weight loading training on their less-affected leg (15 minutes) using a sandbag for 30 minutes, three times per day, for six weeks. Outcomes, including cognitive function and gait ability, were measured before and after the training.
RESULTS: The Korean version of Montreal Cognitive Assessment (K-MoCA), Stroop test (both simple and interference), Trail Making-B, Timed Up and Go, and 10-Meter Walk tests (p<0.05) yielded improved results for the exercise group compared with the control group. Importantly, the K-MoCA, Timed Up and Go, and 10-Meter Walk test results were significantly different between the two groups (p<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The exercise protocol for improving handgrip strength and walking speed had positive effects on cognitive function in patients with chronic stroke.

Link to Full Text Download —> Get your full text copy in PDF | Medical Science Monitor


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[Abstract] Effect of task specific training and wrist-fingers extension splint on hand joints range of motion and function after stroke


via Effect of task specific training and wrist-fingers extension splint on hand joints range of motion and function after stroke – IOS Press

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[ARTICLE] Potential of Stem Cell-Based Therapy for Ischemic Stroke – Full Text

Ischemic stroke is one of the major health problems worldwide. The only FDA approved anti-thrombotic drug for acute ischemic stroke is the tissue plasminogen activator. Several studies have been devoted to assessing the therapeutic potential of different types of stem cells such as neural stem cells (NSCs), mesenchymal stem cells, embryonic stem cells, and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived NSCs as treatments for ischemic stroke. The results of these studies are intriguing but many of them have presented conflicting results. Additionally, the mechanism(s) by which engrafted stem/progenitor cells exert their actions are to a large extent unknown. In this review, we will provide a synopsis of different preclinical and clinical studies related to the use of stem cell-based stroke therapy, and explore possible beneficial/detrimental outcomes associated with the use of different types of stem cells. Due to limited/short time window implemented in most of the recorded clinical trials about the use of stem cells as potential therapeutic intervention for stroke, further clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of the intervention in a longer time window after cellular engraftments are still needed.


The number of stroke-related deaths is increasing and stroke remains one of the major causes of deaths and disability worldwide (12). Between 1990 and 2010, the global incidence rate of stroke seemed to be stable, while other parameters such as the incidence of first stroke, prevalence of stroke, disability-adjusted life-years lost due to stroke, and the number of stroke-related deaths increased by 68, 84, 12, and 26%, respectively (1). Differences between rates and numbers might reflect variations in population structure, increase in life expectancy, and the global improvement of health care services.

Two main types of stroke are recognized: ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic stroke accounts for over 80% of the total number of strokes. Thrombolysis and/or thrombectomy is the only validated therapeutic strategy for ischemic stroke (34). Neurorestorative stem cell-based therapy is currently a major priority for stroke research (56). Following ischemic events an inflammatory cascade, is initiated eventually leading to damage of brain tissue.

Different Cellular Sources Used for Stem Cell-Based Therapy of Stroke

The drastic damage to brain tissues following ischemic stroke includes not only destruction of a heterogeneous population of brain cell types, but also major disruption of neuronal connections and vascular systems. Several types of stem/progenitor cells such as embryonic stem cells (ESCs), neural stem/precursor cells, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and induced neurons have been assessed as potential cellular-based therapy for stroke. The results of studies of these different cellular types are conflicting. In some studies, the engrafted cells survived, proliferated, differentiated, and restored lost neuronal and vascular elements. Other studies have shown only a limited neurorestorative ability on the part of transplanted cells. In the next section of this review, we elaborate on different stem cell types used for cellular-based therapy of stroke (Figure 1).


Figure 1. Stem cells and neural progenitor cells have been used to replace neural tissue death following a cerebral insult. Adult (mesenchymal and neural stem cells) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) exhibited excellent differentiation capacity toward the neural phenotypes (neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes) in vitro and in vivo. In our view instead, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) constitute the greatest prospect for a future cell therapy. iPSCs are derived directly from the patient’s connective tissue through a small biopsy and exhibit the same properties of ESCs, overcoming the problems related to immune rejection, and bypassing the need for embryos. They can be generated in a patient-matched manner, implicating that each individual could have their own pluripotent stem cell line. Finally, iPSCs can be used in personalized drug discovery and to understand and deepen the patient-specific basis of disease (710).


Continue —> Frontiers | Potential of Stem Cell-Based Therapy for Ischemic Stroke | Neurology

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[BOOK Chapter] The “Arm” Line of Devices for Neurological Rehabilitation: Engineering Book Chapter – Abstract


In the modern scenario of neurological rehabilitation, which requires affordable solutions oriented toward promoting home training, the Institute of Industrial Technologies and Automation (ITIA) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) developed a line of prototypal devices for the rehabilitation of the upper limb, called “Arm.” Arm devices were conceived to promote rehabilitation at affordable prices by capturing all the main features of the state-of-the-art devices. In fact, Arm devices focus on the main features requested by a robot therapist: mechanical adaptation to the patient, ranging from passive motion to high transparency, assist-as-needed and resistive modalities; proper use of sensors for performance monitoring; easy-to-use, modular, and adaptable design. These desirable features are combined with low-cost, additive manufacturing procedures, with the purpose of meeting the requirements coming from research on neuro-motor rehabilitation and motor control and coupling them with the recent breakthrough innovations in design and manufacturing.

The “Arm” Line of Devices for Neurological Rehabilitation

Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 30

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2993-4.ch007




 The use of robotic devices for upper-limb neuro-motor rehabilitation is usual practice in clinical centers. In respect to conventional therapies, robots allow to increase training intensity and help patients to promote their active contribution. Furthermore, robots can act as measurers of patients’ performances and adapt their interaction modalities to the emerging needs during the rehabilitation course. Robots like ARMin, MIT Manus, Armeo Spring, Braccio di Ferro, represent the state of the art devices for rehabilitation of the upper-limb and for promoting motor recovery. According to the available assessments and studies in the literature, their efficacy is slightly/moderately higher than the one of conventional therapies. Furthermore, robots are used in research to learn more about physiological and pathological motor control and neuromuscular diseases. Unfortunately, while being the state of the art devices for neuro-motor stimulation and training, such robots are very expensive and not compliant to user-friendly requirements that are needed for semi-autonomous home use. Consequently, they can be used only in clinical environments, under the supervision of medical personnel. Furthermore, sanitary costs related to rehabilitation are increasing and clinical centers can hardly support their burden. The possibility of delocalizing rehabilitation from clinical centers opens the chance for training performed in home environment, with time and costs savings for both the sanitary system and patients. In this scenario, which requires affordable solutions oriented toward promoting home training, the Institute of Industrial Technologies and Automation (ITIA) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) developed a line of prototypal devices for the rehabilitation of the upper-limb, called -ArmArm devices were conceived to test the possibility of promoting rehabilitation at affordable prices but capturing all the main features of the state of the art devices. In fact, Arm devices focus on the main features requested by a robot therapist: mechanical adaptation to the patient, ranging from passive motion to high transparency, assist-as-needed and resistive modalities; proper use of sensors for performance monitoring; easy-to-use, modular and adaptable design. These desirable features are combined with low-cost, additive manufacturing procedures, with the purpose of meeting the requirements coming from research on neuro-motor rehabilitation and motor control and coupling them with the recent breakthrough innovations in design and manufacturing. Arm devices cover both clinical and home-oriented training and are designed for adaptation to patients with different motor impairment.

The Arm prototypes are:

  • • LINarm: linear device, freely orientable in space, suitable for functional movements. It features a variable stiffness actuation, allowing to adapt the mechanical behavior of the device to patients’ needs. Functional Electrical Stimulation, simple Virtual Environments and a Patient Model, gathering data from integrated sensors and modulating the level of assistance, are integrated in the set-up. The LINarm++ Echord++ Project ended in October 2016 and guided the development of a second, more refined prototype, enhancing the original concept.
  • • PLANarm: planar device, freely orientable in space, suitable for planar functional movements. The state of the art planar robots used in literature for motor control and motor learning research inspired PLANarm. It features a variable stiffness actuation, allowing adapting the mechanical behavior of the device depending on patients’ needs.
  • • DUALarm: Low-Cost device for bimanual rehabilitation, exploiting the capability of the less affected limb to provide rehabilitation to the more affected limb. DUALarm is completely realized in 3D printing technology and aims at being an easy-to-use, low-cost, open-source project. Currently, reaching movements can be trained, but the device is conceived to be suitable for training of other functional gestures.
  • • LIGHTarm: Exoskeleton for the rehabilitation of the upper-limb, designed in two versions: LIGHTarm, not actuated, and conceived to support the weight of the impaired limb. The mechanical design includes high backdrivability, focusing on shoulder rhythm and elbow singular configurations.
  • • VIRTUALarm: Kinect One-based platform for motor monitoring, including body and limb tracking and a biomechanical evaluation of the performance in relation to databases of healthy subjects. Assessments include range of motion, motion dynamics, effort, motor control indexes, body segments barycenter tracking.

via The “Arm” Line of Devices for Neurological Rehabilitation: Engineering Book Chapter | IGI Global

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[BLOG POST] Brain training devised by Brighton researcher cuts epileptic seizures

Posted On 19 Jan 2018 at 4:33 pm by : 

Brain training devised by a Brighton clinical researcher can cut the number and frequency of epileptic seizures in patients who have not responded to drug treatment.

Details of the groundbreaking research have been published in The Lancet and Cell Press journal Ebiomedicine.

One in 100 people suffer with epilepsy – 50 million people worldwide – with about 30 per cent of them apparently unable to benefit from drugs to manage the condition.

About half of those taking part in clinical trials reported that the technique reduced seizures by 50 per cent or more.

It was invented by Yoko Nagai, Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, run jointly by Brighton University and Sussex University.

The technique is seen as an alternative to medication by teaching patients to train their brains to be more alert.

Previous mental techniques have been aimed at relaxing the brain to reduce seizures but Dr Nagai’s research found the opposite was true – that training patients to increase their levels of alertness helped them to become better at calming their brain and reducing seizures.

Volunteers used an animated computer programme that responds to a person’s level of alertness.

They were shown how to increase their alertness by learning to move a computer-generated animated figure towards a desired goal.

The method relies on “lie detector” technology, with sensors attached to patients’ fingers.

Patients focus on the computer figure and the sensors pick up brain and body activity including emotional distress and alteration in the sweat glands and these, in turn, signal the figure to move.

The technique teaches patients to acquire a sense of control by concentrating on the screen activity.

In a previous randomised controlled trial with 18 patients, 60 per cent of drug resistant patients demonstrated more than 50 per cent seizure reduction after a month of therapy.

And two who went on to keep a record for three years after their “training” continued to have a greatly reduced number of seizures with learnt techniques.

Yoko Nagai


For the current trials, 40 patients with drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy, aged 18 to 70, were recruited for a controlled trial from three screening centres.

Some 45 per cent of patients demonstrated a reduction in seizures of 50 per cent or more.

Dr Nagai said: “Our clinical study provides evidence for autonomic biofeedback therapy as an effective and potent behavioural intervention for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.

“This approach is non-pharmacological, non-invasive and seemingly side-effect free.”

She now hopes further collaborations may lead to a simple online digital computer programme being developed for patients to use anytime and anywhere in the world.

via Brighton and Hove News » Brain training devised by Brighton researcher cuts epileptic seizures

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[BLOG POST] Caregiver Fatigue for TBI is an ongoing challenge

February, 2018

By Bill Herrin

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Caring for someone with a brain injury, especially a family member,  is an honorable duty. It’s really well beyond that, and when it’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and for many, without a day off – caregiver fatigue can be all-consuming. This month’s Brain Injury Journey Bulletin delves into the incredibly underrated tasks that caregivers face every day, and how they can deal with compassion fatigue, irritability, and yes…just plain “burnout.”

Knowing a person well before their brain injury, and seeing their behavior change can both frustrate and confuse a caregiver. These behavior changes may reflect the survivor’s struggles with cognitive issues, impaired motor skills, loss of self, memory issues, and other stresses. While a caregiver may be the survivor’s  rock and fortress to get through each day, it’s not easy for the caregiver and  can weigh heavily. The caregiver’s frustration can build, and lashing out in the slightest ways can take the whole process in reverse, instead of forward.

A great blog article by April Groff, PhD, lists some wonderful prevention strategies for caregivers. They’re well-structured, effective ways to keep from getting frustrated more than necessary with daily caregiving. Here’s a great checklist that I’ve excerpted from that blog article:

Prevention strategies to reduce caregiver fatigue and frustrations

  • Establish a structured environment and daily routine. They are essential to reduce behavioral problems related to memory. Having a written daily schedule that is similar from day to day can make it easier for your loved one to remember what is expected and what to do next.
  • Keep household objects in the same designated places. Use the same route to walk to a specific location.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum and focus on one task at a time.
  • Use a memory aid system specific to the person’s needs. This may require writing down key information on a calendar, in a memory notebook, or in a smart phone. It may involve using visual reminders, alarms, or labels.
  • Have the person wear an ID bracelet with brain injury status, address, and emergency phone numbers.

Tips for responding to the person with a brain injury

  • If the person repeatedly asks a question, provide an answer. Repeat yourself. It’s easy to get frustrated or to feel like the person isn’t listening to you, but don’t take it personally. Remember that it is the brain injury causing the behavior, not the person.
  • Stay calm and be patient. Offer reassurance with a calm voice. Don’t argue or try to use logic to convince the person to behave differently.caregiver under stress
  • Focus on the emotion, not the behavior. Rather than reacting to repetition, try to think about how the person is feeling and respond to the feeling.
  • Use memory aids. Refer to calendars, notebooks, smart phones, visual reminders, or other memory aids familiar to the person.
  • Engage the person in an activity. Provide structure and try to engage the person in a pleasant activity.
  • If the behavior isn’t harmful, try not to worry about it. Find ways to accept and work with it rather than trying to stop it or change it.

A person with a brain injury carries a heavy load – and everyone handles their own situation differently. When a survivor hit’s the point of “overload”, they can become upset, they may lash out and say things that they don’t really mean. All these things can wear down the caregiver’s energy and patience. Every time this happens, don’t forget that the person may not recall “acting out” prior to this. This “reset” technique will limit any negative response to them – no matter how hard it is to do at the time. Keep in mind that it’s how they’re feeling at the time. Frustration for the caregiver is going to happen, but just maintaining a good level of empathy will help things go better, and in a more positive direction.

There are plenty more incredible insights on the aforementioned blog by Dr. April Groff, and the link to it is here. Print it out, and you’ll have a truly incredible checklist of useful pointers, encouraging tips, and helpful information for a caregiver to refer to.

Caregivers get angry too

Taking the discussion a step further, caregiver fatigue and anger can result from slow progress after a brain injury, coupled with financial stress, competing demands of other family members, and

anxiety about the future. Hearing questions being asked again and again, dealing with angry outbursts by the survivor, and coping with frustration over daily routines, etc. – all can pile up into a “mental mountain” for the caregiver that is coupled with physical exhaustion.  In Janet Cromer’s blog post “Take the Danger Out of TBI Caregiver Anger”, she offers sage advice on dealing with cognition and memory, changes in relationships, and handling a survivor’s anger and irritability.

Ms. Cromer succinctly notes the process in this simple sentence: “Many TBI caregivers describe this cycle of anger, guilt about feeling angry, then anger about feeling guilty.” She draws from her own personal experiences as a caregiver for her husband, and as a mental health professional. For plentiful, and invaluable advice – you can read her full blog article here.

To close, Lash & Associates, a leading publisher of products for the Brain Injury Community, offers tons of blog articles on our award-winning website. Keyword search your topic of choice (relating to PTSD, concussion, brain injury, etc.) and see all that is available! Our product line is broad and extensive, as well. You can search our products at

We hope you have some great “takeaway” from this month’s Brain Injury Journey Bulletin, and we hope that you share it with anyone that can benefit from a free email subscription to receive it monthly. Sign up HERE!

Until next time,

The Lash & Associates Team

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[ARTICLE] Epidemiology of Traumatic Brain Injury in Europe: A Living Systematic Review – Full Text


This systematic review provides a comprehensive, up-to-date summary of traumatic brain injury (TBI) epidemiology in Europe, describing incidence, mortality, age, and sex distribution, plus severity, mechanism of injury, and time trends. PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, and Web of Science were searched in January 2015 for observational, descriptive, English language studies reporting incidence, mortality, or case fatality of TBI in Europe. There were no limitations according to date, age, or TBI severity. Methodological quality was assessed using the Methodological Evaluation of Observational Research checklist. Data were presented narratively. Sixty-six studies were included in the review. Country-level data were provided in 22 studies, regional population or treatment center catchment area data were reported by 44 studies. Crude incidence rates varied widely. For all ages and TBI severities, crude incidence rates ranged from 47.3 per 100,000, to 694 per 100,000 population per year (country-level studies) and 83.3 per 100,000, to 849 per 100,000 population per year (regional-level studies). Crude mortality rates ranged from 9 to 28.10 per 100,000 population per year (country-level studies), and 3.3 to 24.4 per 100,000 population per year (regional-level studies.) The most common mechanisms of injury were traffic accidents and falls. Over time, the contribution of traffic accidents to total TBI events may be reducing. Case ascertainment and definitions of TBI are variable. Improved standardization would enable more accurate comparisons.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is among the most severe types of injury in terms of both case fatality1 and long-term implications for survivors.2 Treatment of TBI can be complex and expensive.3 Upon clinical examination, TBI is most commonly sub-divided into mild, moderate, and severe, according to the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS).4,5 Such categories have been found to be predictive of a patient’s long-term outcome,6 although other measures and models also have been tested.7,8

A previous review of the epidemiology of TBI in Europe concluded that the leading causes of TBI were road traffic collisions, and falls.3 Consequently, in a densely populated and economically advanced area such as the European Union (EU), the potential for prevention of morbidity and mortality is great. The variability in incidence and mechanism of TBI, which may be observed on this mainly contiguous land-mass with a well-developed road network, is also of scientific interest, as it may lead to better prevention of TBI. Countries within the EU adhere to certain multi-national laws and agreements, but nonetheless retain their own law-making and enforcement responsibilities.9 This may add further complexity to the understanding of TBI epidemiology, for example, in the contributions of varying road speed limits or the legal restrictions on the availability of firearms. More generally, the issues relating to the contemporary demographic and lifestyle characteristics of the similar countries or regions suggest that epidemiological trends from EU countries also may be applicable to other high income countries.

Considerable variability has been observed between national rates, largely attributable to significant variability in data collection, case ascertainment, and case definition. This has led to calls for standardized definitions and data collection in population-based studies, and an associated paradigm shift in studying TBI and its impact.10–12

In order to improve the understanding of causes of TBI and the scale of the problem, it is important to analyze the current situation and time trends, using good quality comparable observational studies. One comprehensive systematic review of the epidemiology of TBI in Europe was published nearly ten years ago.3 A recent systematic review,13 published as a follow-up to Tagliaferri (2006),3 addresses similar issues but was more restrictive in dates of publication (1990–2014) and has not been set up as a “living” systematic review (i.e., it is not expected that it will be kept up-to-date as new research is published).13

The overall objective of this systematic review was to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date summary of TBI epidemiology in Europe by reviewing all relevant observational studies. Specific aims were to determine the incidence, mortality, age, and sex distribution of TBI in Europe, along with the severity and mechanism of injury and time trends. […]


Continue —> Epidemiology of Traumatic Brain Injury in Europe: A Living Systematic Review

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[Abstract] The Impact of Traumatic Brain Injury on Later Life: Effects on Normal Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases


The acute and chronic effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) have been widely described; however, there is limited knowledge on how a TBI sustained during early adulthood or mid-adulthood will influence aging. Epidemiological studies have explored whether TBI poses a risk for dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging. We will discuss the influence of TBI and resulting medical comorbidities such as endocrine, sleep, and inflammatory disturbances on age-related gray and white matter changes and cognitive decline. Post mortem studies examining amyloid, tau, and other proteins will be discussed within the context of neurodegenerative diseases and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The data support the suggestion that pathological changes triggered by an earlier TBI will have an influence on normal aging processes and will interact with neurodegenerative disease processes rather than the development of a specific disease, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Chronic neurophysiologic change after TBI may have detrimental effects on neurodegenerative disease.

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via The Impact of Traumatic Brain Injury on Later Life: Effects on Normal Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases | Abstract

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[Conference paper] Robotic Upper Limb Rehabilitation Using Armeo®Spring for Chronic Stroke Patients at University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) – Abstract+References


This is a retrospective study of patients with chronic partial arm paresis post stroke who attended neurorehabilitation at University Malaya Medical Centre, Malaysia. In this study we aimed to analyze the clinical and practical outcome of robotic-assisted upper limb rehabilitation. Specifically, we analyzed the impact of therapy on motor and function of chronic stroke arm paresis through structured therapy protocol. We extended our analysis towards user acceptance in robotic-assisted rehabilitation. We applied our Armeo®Spring Therapy Protocol on stroke patients with unilateral partial upper limb paresis of more than six months duration. The outcome measures were muscle strength, spasticity and hand dexterity. Thirty three patients who fulfilled the criteria of treatment protocol attended outpatient therapy session. Fourteen patients completed the treatment protocol in which ten participants were stroke patients. This study reported statistically significant improvement in multiple joint range of motions following therapy. Although there was non progressing arm spasticity, and improved paretic hand dexterity, both latter outcomes were not statistically significant at the end of therapy.


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via Robotic Upper Limb Rehabilitation Using Armeo®Spring for Chronic Stroke Patients at University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) | SpringerLink

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