It has been said that the future of physical therapy is here and that it requires strong therapist/patient relationships and great communication.
Although this is true, there are also technological advances in physical therapy that further support the notion that the future is here.
We’ve talked about physical therapy for stroke patients before. According the the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year (1 every 40 seconds!) and 600,000 survive the stroke.
Many stroke victims lose their ability to walk. Currently, there is no method, other than trial and error, for Physical Therapists to use to determine the most effective treatment regimen for such patients.
Strokes typically cause a part of the brain to die. Recently, a clinic performed the first deep brain stimulation surgery for stroke recovery. Current knowledge is showing that this deep brain stimulation can help the brain recover movement and adapt beyond what it would be capable of with just physical therapy.
The goal of the deep brain stimulation is to improve the physical therapy efforts. And that is where computer modeled physical therapy for stroke patients comes in.
Physical Therapy Regimens for Stroke Patients – Created by Computers
“This modeling effort is an excellent example of how computer models can make predictions of complex processes and accelerate the integration of knowledge across multiple disciplines,”says Grace Peng, Ph.D., director of the NIBIB program in Mathematical Modeling, Simulation and Analysis.
In developing computer models to be used to create PT regimens, a team first measured the speed at which a patient preferred walking on a treadmill. With the measurements in hand they created a neuromusculoskeletal computer model specific to the patient’s muscle force generating ability, skeletal anatomy, neural control limitations, and foot contact pattern.
The team that created the computer model believes that this is the first step towards personalized neurorehabilitation prescriptions. This will fill a large gap in the current treatment process for stroke patients.
The computer modeling will work along side devices that ensure the patients is exercising with the proper force and torque. The next phase of the project will show if the functional outcomes of therapy for patients is exceeded using these computationally modeled treatment regimens.
Video of Synergy Predicted Motion
Electrical Stimulation for Stroke Recovery
In addition to brain stimulation and computer modeled PT regimens, recent new scientific trials have been tested on stroke patients that utilize non-invasive electrical stimulation to improve mobility.
Funded by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) this research is showing a promising improvement in physical therapy treatment methods for stroke victims.
Much of the testing of this electrical stimulation research has been on stroke patients with spinal chord damage. The results have been great showing improved lower extremity function for the patients trying the treatment.
Assistant Professor James Finley has been helping with this research and had this to say,
We hope to be able to use electrical stimulation the same way in stroke survivors to actually show some short-term improvements in walking function or even control of the legs,
Stroke recovery has come a long way in recent years. Physical therapists and scientists are developing cutting edge technologies and procedures to improve the functional outcomes of PT for stroke patients giving victims options for recovery.
You can read more info on computer generated PT regimens here.