Posts Tagged motor activity
[ARTICLE] Elements virtual rehabilitation improves motor, cognitive, and functional outcomes in adult stroke: evidence from a randomized controlled pilot study – Full Text
Virtual reality technologies show potential as effective rehabilitation tools following neuro-trauma. In particular, the Elements system, involving customized surface computing and tangible interfaces, produces strong treatment effects for upper-limb and cognitive function following traumatic brain injury. The present study evaluated the efficacy of Elements as a virtual rehabilitation approach for stroke survivors.
Twenty-one adults (42–94 years old) with sub-acute stroke were randomized to four weeks of Elements virtual rehabilitation (three weekly 30–40 min sessions) combined with treatment as usual (conventional occupational and physiotherapy) or to treatment as usual alone. Upper-limb skill (Box and Blocks Test), cognition (Montreal Cognitive Assessment and selected CogState subtests), and everyday participation (Neurobehavioral Functioning Inventory) were examined before and after inpatient training, and one-month later.
Effect sizes for the experimental group (d = 1.05–2.51) were larger compared with controls (d = 0.11–0.86), with Elements training showing statistically greater improvements in motor function of the most affected hand (p = 0.008), and general intellectual status and executive function (p ≤ 0.001). Proportional recovery was two- to three-fold greater than control participants, with superior transfer to everyday motor, cognitive, and communication behaviors. All gains were maintained at follow-up.
A course of Elements virtual rehabilitation using goal-directed and exploratory upper-limb movement tasks facilitates both motor and cognitive recovery after stroke. The magnitude of training effects, maintenance of gains at follow-up, and generalization to daily activities provide compelling preliminary evidence of the power of virtual rehabilitation when applied in a targeted and principled manner.
this pilot study was not registered.
Stroke is one of the most common forms of acquired brain injury (ABI), with around 60,000 new and recurrent strokes occurring every year in Australia alone . The clinical outcome of stroke is variable but often includes persistent upper-limb motor deficits, including weakness, discoordination, and reduced speed and mobility , and cognitive impairments in information processing and executive function [3, 4]. Not surprisingly, stroke is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and the burden of stroke across all levels of the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) – body structures/function, activity, and participation – underlines the importance of interventions that can impact multiple domains of functioning [5, 6].
Recovery of functional performance following stroke remains a significant challenge for rehabilitation specialists [7, 8], but may be enhanced by innovation in the use of new technologies like virtual reality [9, 10, 11, 12]. A critical goal is to find compelling ways of engaging individuals in their therapy by creating meaningful, stimulating and intensive forms of training . The term, virtual rehabilitation (VR), is used to describe a form of training wherein patients interact with virtual or augmented environments, presented with the aid of technology [14, 15]. The technologies can be either commercial systems (e.g. Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect) or those customised specifically for rehabilitation. VR offers a number of advantages over traditional therapies, including the ability to engage individuals in the simulated practice of functional tasks at higher doses [16, 17], automated assessment of performance over time, flexibility in the scaling of task constraints, and a variety of reward structures to help maintain compliance .
While evaluation research is still in its infancy, recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses show that VR can enhance upper-limb motor outcomes in stroke [10, 11, 19], yielding treatment effects of medium-to-large magnitude [10, 11], and complementing conventional approaches to rehabilitation. VR has been shown to engender high levels of engagement in stroke patients undergoing physical therapy [20, 21] and training of even moderate intensity can afford functional benefits at the activity/skill level [9, 19]. In the specific case of upper-limb VR, however, there is little available evidence that these benefits transfer to participation . Furthermore, most available data is on patients in chronic stages of recovery, with less on acute stroke . Notwithstanding this, use of VR has begun to emerge in clinical practice, recommended in Australian and international stroke guidelines as a viable adjunct in therapy to improve motor and functional outcomes [22, 23, 24].
Until recently, most VR systems have been designed to improve motor functions, with cognitive outcomes often a secondary consideration in evaluation studies [9, 10, 11]. Notwithstanding this, treatments that target both motor and cognitive functions are indicated for stroke, given evidence that cognitive and motor systems overlap at a structural and functional level [25, 26], and work synergistically in a “perception-action cycle”  in stroke patients undergoing rehabilitation . Recent studies provide preliminary evidence of improved attention and memory in stroke patients following motor-oriented VR [29, 30, 31, 32], amounting to a small-to-medium effect on cognition . When designed to address aspects of cognitive control and planning, VR has the potential to enhance dual-task control, resulting in better generalization of trained skills to daily functioning .
While evaluation research is still in its infancy, several recent customized systems (like Elements, the system evaluated here) have been deliberately designed to exploit factors known to enhance training intensity and motor learning. Informed by neuroscience and learning theory [for a recent review see 12], the Elements VR system was designed to enhance neuro-plastic recovery processes via: (1) an enriched therapeutic environment affording a natural form of user interaction via tangible computing and surface displays , which engage both the cognitive attention of participants and their motivation to explore training tasks; (2) concurrent augmented feedback (AF) on performance  offering participants additional information on the outcome of their actions to assist in re-building a sense of body position in space (aka body schema) and ability to predict/plan future actions; and (3) scaling of task challenges to the current level of motor and cognitive function , ensuring dynamic scaffolding of participants’ information processing and response capabilities. The Elements system, described in detail below and in earlier publications [37, 38], consists of a large (42 in.) tabletop surface display, tangible user interfaces, and software for presenting both goal-directed and exploratory virtual environments. Previous evaluations of the system in patients with traumatic brain injury showed improvements in both motor and cognitive performance, with transfer to activities of daily living [37, 39]. However, the impact of Elements in other forms of ABI, such as stroke, has not been evaluated.
The broad aim of current study was to evaluate the efficacy of the Elements VR interactive tabletop system for rehabilitation of motor and cognitive functions in sub-acute stroke, compared with treatment as usual (TAU). We were particularly interested in motor and cognitive outcomes, their relationship, and the transfer and maintenance of treatment effects. Training-related changes at the activity/skill level on standardized measures of motor and cognitive performance were investigated, together with functional changes. By offering an engaging, principled and customized form of interaction, we predicted that the Elements system would effect (i) greater changes on both motor and cognitive outcomes than with TAU alone; (ii) sustained benefits, as assessed over a short follow-up period, and (iii) transfer to everyday functional performance (i.e. participation).[…]
Continue —> Elements virtual rehabilitation improves motor, cognitive, and functional outcomes in adult stroke: evidence from a randomized controlled pilot study | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text
Examples of the Elements (a) goal-directed Bases task with visual augmented feedback, and (b) exploratory Squiggles task
[Abstract] Effects of Virtual Reality Training using Xbox Kinect on Motor Function in Stroke Survivors: A Preliminary Study
Although the Kinect gaming system (Microsoft Corp, Redmond, WA) has been shown to be of therapeutic benefit in rehabilitation, the applicability of Kinect-based virtual reality (VR) training to improve motor function following a stroke has not been investigated. This study aimed to investigate the effects of VR training, using the Xbox Kinect-based game system, on the motor recovery of patients with chronic hemiplegic stroke.
This was a randomized controlled trial. Twenty patients with hemiplegic stroke were randomly assigned to either the intervention group or the control group. Participants in the intervention group (n = 10) received 30 minutes of conventional physical therapy plus 30 minutes of VR training using Xbox Kinect-based games, and those in the control group (n = 10) received 30 minutes of conventional physical therapy only. All interventions consisted of daily sessions for a 6-week period. All measurements using Fugl–Meyer Assessment (FMA-LE), the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), the Timed Up and Go test (TUG), and the 10-meter Walk Test (10mWT) were performed at baseline and at the end of the 6 weeks.
The scores on the FMA-LE, BBS, TUG, and 10mWT improved significantly from baseline to post intervention in both the intervention and the control groups after training. The pre-to-post difference scores on BBS, TUG, and 10mWT for the intervention group were significantly more improved than those for the control group (P < .05).
Evidence from the present study supports the use of additional VR training with the Xbox Kinect gaming system as an effective therapeutic approach for improving motor function during stroke rehabilitation.
Background and Objective: Stroke rehabilitation assumes motor learning contributes to motor recovery, yet motor learning in stroke has received little systematic investigation. Here we aimed to illustrate that despite matching levels of performance on a task, a trained patient should not be considered equal to an untrained patient with less impairment. Methods: We examined motor learning in healthy control participants and groups of stroke survivors with mild-to-moderate or moderate-to-severe motor impairment. Participants performed a series of isometric contractions of the elbow flexors to navigate an on-screen cursor to different targets, and trained to perform this task over a 4-day period. The speed-accuracy trade-off function (SAF) was assessed for each group, controlling for differences in self-selected movement speeds between individuals. Results: The initial SAF for each group was proportional to their impairment. All groups were able to improve their performance through skill acquisition. Interestingly, training led the moderate-to-severe group to match the untrained (baseline) performance of the mild-to-moderate group, while the trained mild-to-moderate group matched the untrained (baseline) performance of the controls. Critically, this did not make the two groups equivalent; they differed in their capacity to improve beyond this matched performance level. Specifically, the trained groups had reached a plateau, while the untrained groups had not. Conclusions: Despite matching levels of performance on a task, a trained patient is not equal to an untrained patient with less impairment. This has important implications for decisions both on the focus of rehabilitation efforts for chronic stroke, as well as for returning to work and other activities.
Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability, leaving 30% to 66% of patients with lasting motor impairment.1,2 It has long been proposed that motor recovery following stroke is a form of relearning3,4 and that there is considerable overlap between the brain regions involved in both processes.5–7 However, while acquiring skill at a task may allow a patient to perform at the same level as an individual with lesser impairment, this does not necessarily make them equal. For example, well-recovered stroke patients can match the performance of healthy controls on a motor task, but differences exist in the neural networks that underlie performance for each group.8 Furthermore, matched performance does not necessarily imply that both groups have the same ability to continue improving given the opportunity for practice. These differences can complicate judgments regarding patients’ capacity to return to work and other activities,9 and which rehabilitation activities they should focus on. In this article, we propose that acquiring skill through motor training raises a similar issue—a patient who has trained on a task may “appear better,” masking categorical differences in his or her abilities. Consider two hypothetical patients—Patient A, who has mild motor impairment, and Patient B, who is more severely impaired. Patient A performs better in a movement task than Patient B. Patient B then trains at the task, reaching the same performance level as Patient A. If Patient B is now equal to Patient A, he or she should have a similar capacity for further improvement with training. If this is not the case (eg, if Patient B has reached a performance plateau beyond which further training has a limited effect), then a categorical difference remains between these patients despite their matching task performance.
In comparison to healthy individuals, stroke patients select slower voluntary movement speeds when performing movement tasks.10 As speed and accuracy are inherently linked,11 a confound arises when comparing the accuracy of movements performed at different speeds. This limitation makes it difficult to interpret previous results, such as cases where patients improve their accuracy yet decrease their speed.12 In such cases, it is impossible to determine whether a patient improved his or her ability to perform the task (through skill acquisition) or whether he or she simply changed the aspect of performance on which they focused (eg, sacrificed speed for accuracy while remaining at the same overall level of ability). The only way to disambiguate these alternatives is to first derive the speed-accuracy trade-off function (SAF13) for a given task; participants are required to complete the task in a fixed time, allowing accuracy to be measured without the confounding effects of differences in speed. Once derived, skill represents a shift in the SAF.13–15
Here we introduce a serial voluntary isometric elbow force task, a modified version of the serial voluntary isometric pinch task (SVIPT). This task is based on an established laboratory-based model of motor learning in which participants learn to control a cursor by producing isometric forces.13–19 In the task used in the present study, participants controlled a cursor by exerting forces with their elbow flexor muscles, allowing comparisons of performance across participants with greater ranges of impairment than would be possible with the standard (hand controlled) SVIPT paradigm. To control for differences in movement speeds across groups, performance was assessed by comparing the speed-accuracy trade-off pre and post training, using measures of task-level performance (ie, binary success/failure to complete all specified aspects of the task)13–18 and trial-level measures of endpoint error and variability.20 We predicted that the severity of a participant’s motor impairment would limit his or her ability to perform the task and that training may allow him or her to achieve a similar level of performance as an individual with lesser impairment. However, we hypothesized that despite their matching performance, there would be a categorical difference between these individuals; the previously untrained participant with lesser impairment would be able to make large, rapid improvements through training, while the trained participant would not.
[Abstract] Motor Learning in Stroke. Trained Patients Are Not Equal to Untrained Patients With Less Impairment
Background and Objective: Stroke rehabilitation assumes motor learning contributes to motor recovery, yet motor learning in stroke has received little systematic investigation. Here we aimed to illustrate that despite matching levels of performance on a task, a trained patient should not be considered equal to an untrained patient with less impairment.
Methods: We examined motor learning in healthy control participants and groups of stroke survivors with mild-to-moderate or moderate-to-severe motor impairment. Participants performed a series of isometric contractions of the elbow flexors to navigate an on-screen cursor to different targets, and trained to perform this task over a 4-day period. The speed-accuracy trade-off function (SAF) was assessed for each group, controlling for differences in self-selected movement speeds between individuals.
Results: The initial SAF for each group was proportional to their impairment. All groups were able to improve their performance through skill acquisition. Interestingly, training led the moderate-to-severe group to match the untrained (baseline) performance of the mild-to-moderate group, while the trained mild-to-moderate group matched the untrained (baseline) performance of the controls. Critically, this did not make the two groups equivalent; they differed in their capacity to improve beyond this matched performance level. Specifically, the trained groups had reached a plateau, while the untrained groups had not.
Conclusions: Despite matching levels of performance on a task, a trained patient is not equal to an untrained patient with less impairment. This has important implications for decisions both on the focus of rehabilitation efforts for chronic stroke, as well as for returning to work and other activities.
Source: Motor Learning in Stroke
[Abstract] Deficits in motor abilities for multi-finger force control in hemiparetic stroke survivors.
The ability to control redundant motor effectors is one of hallmarks in human motor control, and the topic has been studied extensively over several decades since the initial inquiries proposed by Nicholi Bernstein. However, our understanding of the influence of stroke on the control of redundant motor systems is very limited.
This study aimed to investigate the effect of stroke-related constraints on multi-finger force control abilities in a visuomotor task. Impaired (IH) and less-impaired hands (LH) of 19 hemiparetic stroke survivors and 19 age-matched control subjects were examined. Each hand repeatedly produced isometric forces to match a target force of 5 N shown on a computer screen using all four fingers. The hierarchical variability decomposition (HVD) model was used to separate force-matching errors (motor performance) into task-relevant measures (accuracy, steadiness, and reproducibility). Task-irrelevant sources of variability in individual finger force profiles within and between trials (flexibility and multiformity) were also quantified. The IH in the stroke survivors showed deficits in motor performance attributed mainly to lower accuracy and reproducibility as compared to control hands (p < 0.05). The LH in stroke survivors showed lower reproducibility and both hands in stroke also had higher multiformity than the control hands (p < 0.05).
The findings from our HVD model suggest that accuracy, reproducibility, and multiformity were mainly impaired during force-matching task in the stroke survivors. The specific motor deficits identified through the HVD model with the new conceptual framework may be considered as critical factors for scientific investigation on stroke and evidence-based rehabilitation of this population.
[A Proof-of-Principle Study] Home-Based Nerve Stimulation to Enhance Effects of Motor Training in Patients in the Chronic Phase After Stroke
…Home-based active RPSS associated with motor training was feasible, was safe, and led to long-lasting enhancement of paretic arm performance in the chronic phase after stroke for those who can perform the JTT. These results point to the need for an efficacy trial…