Research Topic

Applications of Rehabilitation Engineering Technologies for the Intervention of Neural and Motor Impairment Post Stroke

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Stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Stroke survivors often have motor impairments which contribute to upper limbs dysfunctions, reduced balance, postural control and reduced mobility and proprioception. These physical symptoms lead to reduced social participation and poor quality of life. ...

Stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Stroke survivors often have motor impairments which contribute to upper limbs dysfunctions, reduced balance, postural control and reduced mobility and proprioception. These physical symptoms lead to reduced social participation and poor quality of life. Over the past ten years, there had been an enormous focus on the use of virtual reality (VR) and other technologies to improve clinical outcomes for people with stroke. These technologies include large scale bespoke manufactured immersvie virtual reality system, or home based rehabilitation device such as the commercially available device Nitendo Wii and Microsoft XBox. The clinical efficacy of these rehabilitation technologies had been studied extensively but our understanding of the underlying mechanism of recovery induced by these technologies is poor. There are two aspects of "recovery" must be considered. One is the learning compensation strategies where patients acquired "new" skills to improve functional abilities. The other aspect is the neuroplasticity mechanism which leads to cortical map reorganisation. The patient is able to re-use the same body segments in the same way as they did before the stroke. Published studies generally reported improvement in upper limb function, lower limb function, balance and gait. This leads to the uncertainty whether these technologies are effective in promoting "recovery" at neural level or functional level.

With the advance in technology, monitoring techniques such as neural imaging, motion analysis, and EMGs devices have broad applications in the understanding of neural recovery post stroke. Studies that utilize functional outcome measures or observational design may be more effective in identifying functional recovery. A combination of the two designs may be helpful to provide new insights on the recovery mechanism induced by rehabilitation devices.

We welcome researchers and clinicians to contribute original research articles or contemporary review to this Research Topic which aims to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying neural and functional impairment and their recovery following stroke, using VR or relevant rehabilitation technologies. The term 'rehabilitation technologies' is used in its broadest sense as so we are interested in studies and applications of technologies that treat, monitor, and evaluate.

Areas of interests include but not limited to the following related topics:
- Advances in quantification of changes of neural activity
- Advances in quantification of movement pattern post stroke
- Advances in quantification of muscle activities
- Advances in technologies in the rehabilitation setting
- Novel technique to quantify recovery


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