A major new research programme using robots to help stroke patients regain movement in their arms has been officially launched by the NHS in the North East today.
It will be led by stroke specialists at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, alongside researchers from Newcastle University.
North Tyneside General Hospital is one of the first in the country to house the new state-of-the-art stroke ‘rehabilitation robots’ from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US after investing over £250,000.
Now, the hospital will lead the research programme in the North East, working with stroke patients from across Tyne and Wear.
- HOW DOES ROBOT ASSISTED THERAPY WORK?
During robot assisted training, the person who has had a stroke sits at a table facing a computer screen and places their arm onto the device.
The therapist then asks the patient to undertake some arm exercises such as moving between targets on the computer screen.
If the person is unable to move their arm then the robot moves the patient’s arm to complete the task.
If the patient initiates movement, the robot provides adjustable levels of assistance to facilitate the person’s arm movement – all of which helps the brain and arm to learn to work together again.
Researchers from Newcastle University will work in collaboration with teams from the Universities of Glasgow, East London and Cambridge, as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and NHS stroke teams.
“Announcing the start of this clinical trial is a really exciting step forward for stroke rehabilitation research in the UK. We have been looking at the research undertaken in the USA and we are working closely with colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to see if robot assisted training is an effective treatment. If shown to be effective, robot assisted training has the potential to change how we provide NHS rehabilitation for people with arm weakness due to stroke.”
– HELEN RODGERS, PROFESSOR OF STROKE CARE, NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY
“The robotic technology we have developed at MIT is already helping many stroke patients and people with other neurological conditions in the US. The whole concept is revolutionising the practice of rehabilitation medicine by applying robotics that can assist and enhance recovery.
By using robotics not only do we get a greater understanding of the neuro recovery process, but we can also build a rich stream of data that assists in ongoing patient diagnosis and customisation of the therapy.”
– DR HERMANO IGO KREBS, PRINCIPAL RESEARCH SCIENTIST AND LECTURER AT MIT IN THE USA