Keio University and Panasonic Corp. will begin clinical tests as early as March for putting a rehabilitation device for cerebral stroke patients into practical use.
The tests will take place under the initiative of doctors. The device will read changes in the brain waves of cerebral stroke patients and move their paralyzed fingers with the help of machines. The aim is to help them recover nerve circuits.
In a serious cerebral stroke, the nerve circuits running from the brains of patients are damaged, resulting in paralysis.
There are about 1.2 million cerebral stroke patients in Japan. About 20 percent of them have suffered serious paralysis and are unable to move their fingers, even 90 days or more after suffering a stroke. Until recently, there have been no effective methods to treat the paralysis.
A team of researchers led by two Keio University researchers — Meigen Liu, a professor of rehabilitation medicine, and Junichi Ushiba, an associate professor of science and engineering — analyzed changes in brain waves when patients intended to spread their fingers.
The researchers developed a machine to spread the patients’ fingers for them when sensors attached to their heads detected the changes, and at the same time send an electrical stimulus into the patients’ arms.
Recovery of nerve circuits is encouraged through repeating the physical movements and electrical stimulus that respond to brain waves.
Previously, 42 patients who were unable to move their fingers at all were asked to take part in special rehabilitation programs using the device for 40 minutes a day for 10 days, in addition to ordinary rehabilitation programs. Of those people, 29 were able to move their fingers again.
Hiroshi Goto, a 54-year-old research fellow of Dai-ichi Life Research Institute Inc. whose left side became paralyzed due to a brain hemorrhage in 2010, was able to move his fingers in the special rehabilitation programs.
“I repeatedly undertook other kinds of rehabilitation programs, but was unable to move my fingers at all. I once felt helpless, but now I have hope,” he said.
Toshiki Yoshimine, a special assigned professor of neurosurgery at Osaka University, said: “Rehabilitating cerebral stroke patients requires training not only their muscles but also their brains. This method is groundbreaking, and I have expectations.”Speech