Posts Tagged physical activity
[NEWS] New Virtual Reality Therapy game could offer relief for patients with chronic pain, mobility issues
A Virtual Reality Therapy game (iVRT) which could introduce relief for patients suffering from chronic pain and mobility issues has been developed by a team of UK researchers.
Dr Andrew Wilson and colleagues from Birmingham City University built the CRPS app in collaboration with clinical staff at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust for a new way to tackle complex regional pain syndrome and to aid people living with musculoskeletal conditions.
Using a head mounted display and controllers, the team created an immersive and interactive game which mimics the processes used in traditional ‘mirror therapy’ treatment. Within the game, players are consciously and subconsciously encouraged to stretch, move and position the limbs that are affected by their conditions.
Mirror therapy is a medical exercise intervention where a mirror is used to create areflective illusion that encourages patient’s brain to move their limb more freely. This intervention is often used by occupational therapists and physiotherapists to treat CRPS patients who have experienced a stroke. This treatment has proven to be successful exercises are often deemed routine and mundane by patients, which contributes to decline in the completion of therapy.
Work around the CRPS project, which could have major implications for other patient rehabilitation programmes worldwide when fully realised, was presented at the 12th European Conference on Game Based Learning (ECGBL) in France late last year.
Dr Wilson, who leads Birmingham City University’s contribution to a European research study into how virtual reality games can encourage more physical activity, and how movement science in virtual worlds can be used for both rehabilitation and treatment adherence, explained, “The first part of the CRPS project was to examine the feasibility of being able to create a game which reflects the rehabilitation exercises that the clinical teams use on the ground to reduce pain and improve mobility in specific patients.”
“By making the game enjoyable and playable we hope family members will play too and in doing so encourage the patient to continue with their rehabilitation. Our early research has shown that in healthy volunteers both regular and casual gamers enjoyed the game which is promising in terms of our theory surrounding how we may support treatment adherence by exploiting involvement of family and friends in the therapy processes.”
The CRPS project was realized through collaborative working between City Hospital, Birmingham, and staff at the School of Computing and Digital Technology, and was developed following research around the provision of a 3D virtual reality ophthalmoscopy trainer.
Andrea Quadling, Senior Occupational Therapist at Sandwell Hospital, said “The concept of using virtual reality to treat complex pain conditions is exciting, appealing and shows a lot of potential. This software has the potential to be very helpful in offering additional treatment options for people who suffer with CRPS.”
[Abstract] Adherence to a Long-Term Physical Activity and Exercise Program After Stroke Applied in a Randomized Controlled Trial
[ARTICLE] Evaluation of a smartwatch-based intervention providing feedback of daily activity within a research-naive stroke ward: a pilot randomised controlled trial – Full Text
The majority of stroke patients are inactive outside formal therapy sessions. Tailored activity feedback via a smartwatch has the potential to increase inpatient activity. The aim of the study was to identify the challenges and support needed by ward staff and researchers and to examine the feasibility of conducting a randomised controlled trial (RCT) using smartwatch activity monitors in research-naive rehabilitation wards. Objectives (Phase 1 and 2) were to report any challenges and support needed and determine the recruitment and retention rate, completion of outcome measures, smartwatch adherence rate, (Phase 2 only) readiness to randomise, adherence to protocol (intervention fidelity) and potential for effect.
First admission, stroke patients (onset < 4 months) aged 40–75, able to walk 10 m prior to stroke and follow a two-stage command with sufficient cognition and vision (clinically judged) were recruited within the Second Affiliated Hospital of Anhui University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Phase 1: a non-randomised observation phase (to allow practice of protocol)—patients received no activity feedback. Phase 2: a parallel single-blind pilot RCT. Patients were randomised into one of two groups: to receive daily activity feedback over a 9-h period or to receive no activity feedback. EQ-5D-5L, WHODAS and RMI were conducted at baseline, discharge and 3 months post-discharge. Descriptive statistics were performed on recruitment, retention, completion and activity counts as well as adherence to protocol.
Out of 470 ward admissions, 11% were recruited across the two phases, over a 30-week period. Retention rate at 3 months post-discharge was 48%. Twenty-two percent of patients dropped out post-baseline assessment, 78% completed baseline and discharge admissions, from which 62% were assessed 3 months post-discharge. Smartwatch data were received from all patients. Patients were correctly randomised into each RCT group. RCT adherence rate to wearing the smartwatch was 80%. Baseline activity was exceeded for 65% of days in the feedback group compared to 55% of days in the no feedback group.
Delivery of a smartwatch RCT is feasible in a research-naive rehabilitation ward. However, frequent support and guidance of research-naive staff are required to ensure completeness of clinical assessment data and protocol adherence.
Exercise has an important role in the recovery of stroke, increasing cognition, arm function, balance and gait, in addition to reducing the risk of subsequent cardiovascular events [1, 2]. Despite the importance of general physical activity in recovery, the majority of stroke survivors receiving rehabilitation in hospital are inactive outside formal therapy sessions [3, 4]. In order to encourage long-term exercise adherence, it is recommended that physical activity goals are customised to the individual tolerance of the stroke patient .
Modern electronic activity monitors are able to provide a wide range of behavioural monitoring tools and are therefore emerging as a possible method to provide customised activity goals and feedback to promote exercise . Coinciding with the technological developments in activity monitoring, there is evidence to suggest that activity feedback of exercise may increase motivation to exercise. The provision of activity feedback has been found to be more effective in increasing physical activity levels than providing activity goals alone, in healthy controls [6–8] and in older adults undergoing rehabilitation . Interventions providing feedback and monitoring of activity have shown positive outcomes in relation to exercise adherence amongst older individuals . However, personalised activity feedback has also found to have no effect on actual or intended activity levels amongst controls . Despite studies suggesting a positive effect, more evidence is needed before such activity feedback interventions can be recommended to be used in treatment.
The literature has shown that remote monitoring of physical activity is feasible after stroke ; however, the impact of activity feedback on exercise levels within this population is less clear. A systematic review of studies investigating augmented feedback on motor activities after stroke concluded that findings were inconsistent due to the combination of multiple aspects and types of augmented feedback used . One study found that feedback of physical activity provided three times a week had no significant effect on the daily walking time of stroke inpatients . Little research to date has investigated the use of periodic feedback of daily activity amongst stroke patients undergoing rehabilitation. It is of interest to see whether increasing the frequency of activity feedback will elicit greater physical activity levels. The provision of daily activity feedback (via a smartwatch), relative to activity at fixed time points through-out the previous day, may have the potential to motivate stroke rehabilitation patients to be more active.
Conducting clinical trials within research-naive settings are commonly accompanied with ethical, cultural and organisational challenges . The present study will evaluate the feasibility of conducting the smartwatch intervention mentioned above within a research-naive stroke rehabilitation centre in Hefei, China (whereby no rehabilitation research has previously been conducted).
The aim of this feasibility study was to identify the challenges and support needed by ward staff and researchers and to examine the feasibility of conducting an RCT using smartwatch activity monitors in research-naive rehabilitation wards. The objectives were to report any challenges and support needed and determine the recruitment and retention rate, completion of outcome measures, adherence to wearing the smartwatch, readiness to randomise, adherence to protocol (intervention fidelity) and potential for effect.[…]
What’s the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today? Exercise! says neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki. Get inspired to go to the gym as Suzuki discusses the science of how working out boosts your mood and memory — and protects your brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.
What if I told you there was something that you can do right now that would have an immediate, positive benefit for your brain including your mood and your focus? And what if I told you that same thing could actually last a long time and protect your brain from different conditions like depression, Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Would you do it? Yes!
I am talking about the powerful effects of physical activity. Simply moving your body,has immediate, long-lasting and protective benefits for your brain. And that can last for the rest of your life. So what I want to do today is tell you a story about how I used my deep understanding of neuroscience, as a professor of neuroscience, to essentially do an experiment on myself in which I discovered the science underlying why exercise is the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today. Now, as a neuroscientist, I know that our brains, that is the thing in our head right now, that is the most complex structure known to humankind. But it’s one thing to talk about the brain,and it’s another to see it.
So here is a real preserved human brain. And it’s going to illustrate two key areas that we are going to talk about today. The first is the prefrontal cortex, right behind your forehead, critical for things like decision-making, focus, attention and your personality.The second key area is located in the temporal lobe, shown right here. You have two temporal lobes in your brain, the right and the left, and deep in the temporal lobe is a key structure critical for your ability to form and retain new long-term memories for facts and events. And that structure is called the hippocampus. So I’ve always been fascinated with the hippocampus. How could it be that an event that lasts just a moment, say, your first kiss, or the moment your first child was born, can form a memory that has changed your brain, that lasts an entire lifetime? That’s what I want to understand. I wanted to start and record the activity of individual brain cells in the hippocampus as subjects were forming new memories. And essentially try and decode how those brief bursts of electrical activity, which is how neurons communicate with each other, how those brief bursts either allowed us to form a new memory, or did not.
But a few years ago, I did something very unusual in science. As a full professor of neural science, I decided to completely switch my research program. Because I encountered something that was so amazing, with the potential to change so many lives that I had to study it. I discovered and I experienced the brain-changing effects of exercise. And I did it in a completely inadvertent way. I was actually at the height of all the memory work that I was doing — data was pouring in, I was becoming known in my field for all of this memory work. And it should have been going great. It was, scientifically. But when I stuck my head out of my lab door, I noticed something. I had no social life. I spent too much time listening to those brain cells in a dark room, by myself. (Laughter) I didn’t move my body at all. I had gained 25 pounds. And actually, it took me many years to realize it, I was actually miserable. And I shouldn’t be miserable. And I went on a river-rafting trip — by myself, because I had no social life.And I came back —
thinking, “Oh, my God, I was the weakest person on that trip.” And I came back with a mission. I said, “I’m never going to feel like the weakest person on a river-rafting trip again.” And that’s what made me go to the gym. And I focused my type-A personalityon going to all the exercise classes at the gym. I tried everything. I went to kickbox, dance, yoga, step class, and at first it was really hard. But what I noticed is that after every sweat-inducing workout that I tried, I had this great mood boost and this great energy boost. And that’s what kept me going back to the gym. Well, I started feeling stronger. I started feeling better, I even lost that 25 pounds.
And now, fast-forward a year and a half into this regular exercise program and I noticed something that really made me sit up and take notice. I was sitting at my desk, writing a research grant, and a thought went through my mind that had never gone through my mind before. And that thought was, “Gee, grant-writing is going well today.” And all the scientists —
yeah, all the scientists always laugh when I say that, because grant-writing never goes well. It is so hard; you’re always pulling your hair out, trying to come up with that million-dollar-winning idea. But I realized that the grant-writing was going well,because I was able to focus and maintain my attention for longer than I had before.And my long-term memory — what I was studying in my own lab — seemed to be better in me. And that’s when I put it together.
Maybe all that exercise that I had included and added to my life was changing my brain. Maybe I did an experiment on myself without even knowing it. So as a curious neuroscientist, I went to the literature to see what I could find about what we knewabout the effects of exercise on the brain. And what I found was an exciting and a growing literature that was essentially showing everything that I noticed in myself.Better mood, better energy, better memory, better attention. And the more I learned,the more I realized how powerful exercise was. Which eventually led me to the big decision to completely shift my research focus. And so now, after several years of really focusing on this question, I’ve come to the following conclusion: that exercise is the most transformative thing that you can do for your brain today for the following three reasons.
Number one: it has immediate effects on your brain. A single workout that you do will immediately increase levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. That is going to increase your mood right after that workout, exactly what I was feeling. My lab showed that a single workout can improve your ability to shift and focus attention, and that focus improvement will last for at least two hours.And finally, studies have shown that a single workout will improve your reaction timeswhich basically means that you are going to be faster at catching that cup of Starbucks that falls off the counter, which is very, very important.
But these immediate effects are transient, they help you right after. What you have to do is do what I did, that is change your exercise regime, increase your cardiorespiratory function, to get the long-lasting effects. And these effects are long-lasting because exercise actually changes the brain’s anatomy, physiology and function. Let’s start with my favorite brain area, the hippocampus. The hippocampus —or exercise actually produces brand new brain cells, new brain cells in the hippocampus, that actually increase its volume, as well as improve your long-term memory, OK? And that including in you and me.
Number two: the most common finding in neuroscience studies, looking at effects of long-term exercise, is improved attention function dependent on your prefrontal cortex. You not only get better focus and attention, but the volume of the hippocampus increases as well. And finally, you not only get immediate effects of mood with exercise but those last for a long time. So you get long-lasting increases in those good mood neurotransmitters.
But really, the most transformative thing that exercise will do is its protective effects on your brain. Here you can think about the brain like a muscle. The more you’re working out, the bigger and stronger your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex gets. Why is that important? Because the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus are the two areas that are most susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases and normal cognitive decline in aging. So with increased exercise over your lifetime, you’re not going to cure dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but what you’re going to do is you’re going to create the strongest, biggest hippocampus and prefrontal cortex so it takes longer for these diseases to actually have an effect. You can think of exercise, therefore, as a supercharged 401K for your brain, OK? And it’s even better, because it’s free.
And so I’m going to tell you the answer to that question. First, good news: you don’t have to become a triathlete to get these effects. The rule of thumb is you want to get three to four times a week exercise minimum 30 minutes an exercise session, and you want to get aerobic exercise in. That is, get your heart rate up. And the good news is, you don’t have to go to the gym to get a very expensive gym membership.Add an extra walk around the block in your power walk. You see stairs — take stairs.And power-vacuuming can be as good as the aerobics class that you were going to take at the gym.
So I’ve gone from memory pioneer to exercise explorer. From going into the innermost workings of the brain, to trying to understand how exercise can improve our brain function, and my goal in my lab right now is to go beyond that rule of thumb that I just gave you — three to four times a week, 30 minutes. I want to understand the optimum exercise prescription for you, at your age, at your fitness level, for your genetic background, to maximize the effects of exercise today and also to improve your brain and protect your brain the best for the rest of your life.
People with epilepsy (PWE) are less physically active compared with the general population. Explanations include prejudice, overprotection, unawareness, stigma, fear of seizure induction and lack of knowledge of health professionals. At present, there is no consensus on the role of exercise in epilepsy. This paper reviews the current evidence surrounding the risks and benefits associated with physical activity (PA) in this group of patients. In the last decade, several publications indicate significant benefits in physiological and psychological health parameters, including mood and cognition, physical conditioning, social interaction, quality of life, as well as potential prevention of seizure presentation. Moreover, experimental studies suggest that PA provides mechanisms of neuronal protection, related to biochemical and structural changes including release of β-endorphins and steroids, which may exert an inhibitory effect on the occurrence of abnormal electrical activity. Epileptic discharges can decrease or disappear during exercise, which may translate into reduced seizure recurrence. In some patients, exercise may precipitate seizures. Available evidence suggests that PA should be encouraged in PWE in order to promote wellbeing and quality of life. There is a need for prospective randomized controlled studies that provide stronger clinical evidence before definitive recommendations can be made.
[Abstract + References] Methods of Motion Assessment of Upper Limb for Rehabilitation Application – IEEE Conference Publication
[Thesis] Designing an augmented reality video game to assist stroke patients with independent rehabilitation
There’s no place like home for engaging in the levels of physical activity (PA) that can aid in recovery poststroke—at least compared with the current hospital setting—according to a small study from Australia.
For the study, researchers used accelerometers and self-reports to track the PA and sitting time of 32 participants (mean age of 68, 53% male) who had experienced a stroke, comparing data gathered during their last week in the hospital with data gathered during their first week home. Participants were also assessed in a number of areas during their final week in the hospital, including physical function, functional independence, pain, anxiety, and depression.
The researchers were interested in finding out if an individual’s environment plays a role in PA poststroke—something they describe as “pivotal” to recovery—and whether other factors, such as depression, have an effect on any changes in PA levels. Results were e-published ahead of print in theArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (abstract only available for free).
They found that environment does seem to make a difference—and a fairly big one at that. While the amount of time spent awake didn’t change much from hospital to home (13.1 hours a day in the hospital vs 13.5 hours per day at home), the amount of PA achieved—and time spent in sedentary behaviors—varied significantly. Participants sat for an average of 45 fewer minutes a day at home than they did in their last week in the hospital, were upright for 45 more minutes a day, spent 12 more minutes a day walking, and completed an average of 724 additional daily steps.
The results were similar when adjusted for demographic variables and didn’t seem to be significantly affected by any of the secondary factors assessed in the hospital, save one—depression, which when present was associated with no gains in PA at home.
The researchers don’t pin the improvement to any single factor but speculate that “the home environment may provide greater opportunity for activities of daily living such as cooking, cleaning, social and community activities, and there may be fewer external restrictions such as hospital routines and safety concerns around mobilization.”
Authors of the study also believe the gap between home and hospital PA poststroke could be closed if hospitals were to take more cues from the home environment.
“Physically, cognitively, and socially enriched stroke rehabilitation environments appear to increase activity by 20%,” they write. “Wards [that] include communal areas to promote more time spent upright, and the need to transport patients further for personal care may create opportunities for activity. The low activity levels in [the] hospital and at home found in our study, and in prior reports…indicate that there is clearly more work to be done in promoting activity after stroke.”
New research has shown for the first time that a social robot can deliver a ‘helpful’ and ‘enjoyable’ motivational interview (MI) — a counselling technique designed to support behaviour change.
Many participants in the University of Plymouth study praised the ‘non-judgemental’ nature of the humanoid NAO robot as it delivered its session — with one even saying they preferred it to a human.
Led by the School of Psychology, the study also showed that the robot achieved a fundamental objective of MI as it encouraged participants, who wanted to increase their physical activity, to articulate their goals and dilemmas aloud.
MI is a technique that involves the counsellor supporting and encouraging someone to talk about their need for change, and their reasons for wanting to change.
The role of the interviewer in MI is mainly to evoke a conversation about change and commitment, and the robot was programmed with a set script designed to elicit ideas and conversation on how someone could increase their physical activity.
When finished answering each question, the participant taped the top of NAO’s head to continue, with some sessions lasting up to an hour.
Lead academic Professor Jackie Andrade explained that, because they are perceived as nonjudgmental, robots may have advantages over more humanoid avatars for delivering virtual support for behavioral change.
“We were pleasantly surprised by how easily the participants adapted to the unusual experience of discussing their lifestyle with a robot,” she said. “As we have shown for the first time that a motivational interview delivered by a social robot can elicit out-loud discussion from participants.
“In addition, the participants perceived the interaction as enjoyable, interesting and helpful. Participants found it especially useful to hear themselves talking about their behaviour aloud, and liked the fact that the robot didn’t interrupt, which suggests that this new intervention has a potential advantage over other technology-delivered adaptations of MI.
“Concern about being judged by a human interviewer came across strongly in praise for the non-judgemental nature of the robot, suggesting that robots may be particularly helpful for eliciting talk about sensitive issues.
“The next stage is to undertake a quantitative study, where we can measure whether participants felt that the intervention actually increased their activity levels.”
Materials provided by University of Plymouth. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
- Joana Galvão Gomes da Silva, David J Kavanagh, Tony Belpaeme, Lloyd Taylor, Konna Beeson, Jackie Andrade. Experiences of a Motivational Interview Delivered by a Robot: Qualitative Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2018; 20 (5): e116 DOI: 10.2196/jmir.7737
via Could robots be counselors? Early research shows positive user experience: New research has shown for the first time that a social robot can deliver a ‘helpful’ and ‘enjoyable’ motivational interview — ScienceDaily
[ARTICLE] Effectiveness of a multimodal exercise rehabilitation program on walking capacity and functionality after a stroke – Full Text
The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a 12-week multimodal exercise rehabilitation program on walking speed, walking ability and activities of daily living (ADLs) among people who had suffered a stroke. Thirty-one stroke survivors who had completed a conventional rehabilitation program voluntarily participated in the study. Twenty-six participants completed the multimodal exercise rehabilitation program (2 days/wk, 1 hr/session). Physical outcome measures were: walking speed (10-m walking test), walking ability (6-min walking test and functional ambulation classification) and ADLs (Barthel Index). The program consisted on: aerobic exercise; task oriented exercises; balance and postural tonic activities; and stretching. Participants also followed a program of progressive ambulation at home. They were evaluated at baseline, postintervention and at the end of a 6-month follow-up period. After the intervention there were significant improvements in all outcomes measures that were maintained 6 months later. Comfortable and fast walking speed increased an average of 0.16 and 0.40 m/sec, respectively. The walking distance in the 6-min walking test increased an average of 59.8 m. At the end of the intervention, participants had achieved independent ambulation both indoors and outdoors. In ADLs, 40% were independent at baseline vs. 64% at the end of the intervention. Our study demonstrates that a multimodal exercise rehabilitation program adapted to stroke survivors has benefits on walking speed, walking ability and independence in ADLs.
Keywords: Exercise, Physical activity, Stroke rehabilitation, Walking speed, Activities of daily living
As life expectancy increases, a larger number of persons may suffer from stroke. Stroke mortality rates have decreased, but the burden of stroke is increasing in terms of stroke survivors per year, correlated deaths and disability-adjusted life-years lost. These deficiencies are further highlighted by a trend towards more strokes in younger people (Feigin et al., 2014). Stroke not only causes permanent neurological deficits, but also a profound degradation of physical condition, which worsens disability and increases cardiovascular risk. Stroke survivors are likely to suffer functional decline due to reduction of aerobic capacity. This may involve further secondary complications such as progressive muscular atrophy, osteoporosis, peripheral circulation worsening and increased cardiovascular risk (Ivey et al., 2006). All these factors cause increased dependency, need of assistance from third parties in activities of daily living (ADLs) and a restriction on participation that can have a profound psychosocial impact (Carod-Artal and Egido, 2009). Gait capacity is one of the main priorities of persons who have suffered a stroke, but is often limited due to the high energy demands of hemiplegic gait and the poor physical condition of these persons (Ivey et al., 2006). Gait speed is a commonly used measure in patients who have suffered a stroke to differentiate the functional capacity to walk indoors or outdoors. Gait speed has been classified as: allowing indoor ambulation (<0.4 m/sec), limited outdoor ambulation (0.4–0.8 m/sec), and outdoor functional ambulation (>0.8 m/sec) (Perry et al., 1995). Gait speed can also help to establish the functional prognosis of the patient. It has been stated that improvements in walking speed correlate with improved function and quality of life (QoL) (Schmid et al., 2007). It is essential to achieve a proper gait speed for outdoors functional ambulation.
Falls are common among stroke survivors and are associated with a worsening of disability and QoL. Balance is a complex process that involves the reception and integration of afferent inputs and the planning and execution of movement. Stroke can impact on different systems involved in postural control. Multifactorial falls risk assessment and management, combined with fitness programs, are effective in reducing risk of falls and fear of falling (Stroke Foundation of New Zealand and New Zealand Guidelines Group, 2010). Falls often occur when getting in and out of a chair (Brunt et al., 2002). The 2013 Cochrane review (Saunders et al., 2013) recommends the repetitive practice of sit-to-stand in order to promote an ergonomic and automatic pattern of this movement. Recent studies demonstrate that exercises that improve trunk stability and balance provide a solid base for body and leg movements that entail an improved gait in people affected by stroke (Sharma and Kaur, 2017). Conventional rehabilitation programs after stroke focus on the subacute period. The aim is to recover basic ADLs, but they do not provide maintenance exercises to provide long-term health gains. Cardiac monitoring demonstrates that conventional physiotherapy exercises do not regularly provide adequate exercise intensity to modify the physical deconditioning, nor sufficient exercise repetition to improve motor learning (Ivey et al., 2006). Therapeutic physical exercise to optimize function, physical condition and cardiovascular health after a stroke is an emerging field within neurorehabilitation (Teasell et al., 2009). The wide range of difficulties experienced by stroke survivors justify the need to explore rehabilitation programs designed to promote an overall improvement and to maintain the gains obtained after rehabilitation programs. Numerous studies have demonstrated the efficacy of aerobic exercise (Saunders et al., 2016), but there are few data on the long term effects of multimodal programs that incorporate aerobic exercise, complemented by task-oriented training and balance exercises. Consequently, the aim of this study is to analyse the impact of a multimodal exercise rehabilitation program tailored to stroke survivors on walking speed, walking ability and ADLs. […]