Queen's invention connects brain functioning to limb control

September 09, 2002

A Queen's neuroscientist's invention to help understand the role of the brain in arm and leg movement will dramatically improve the assessment and rehabilitation of stroke and spinal cord victims. It will also help lay the groundwork for development of neural prostheses that can re-activate paralyzed limbs.

Dr. Stephen Scott's unique mathematical model, combined with his new experimental device, KINARM (Kinesiological Instrument for Normal and Altered Reaching Movement), enables researchers for the first time to objectively quantify and manipulate the mechanics of limb movement in multi-joint motor tasks. This device has already generated several new observations on how the brain coordinates limb movements.

In a pilot project to begin this fall at St. Mary's by the Lake Hospital, the device will be used to quantify motor function of stroke patients. Motor patterns will be examined first for a number of simple tasks while subjects maintain fixed arm postures, then for more sophisticated tasks where they learn to make reaching movements while the robot applies complex novel loads to assess their ability to learn new motor skills. The long-term goal is to identify which tasks patients can and cannot perform, and to create "fingerprints" to aid in the diagnosis and classification of motor dysfunctions, as well as to guide future directions for therapy.

"We needed a different experimental paradigm to understand how neurons in the brain are involved in controlling movement," says Dr. Scott. "Once you've built the technology, the rest becomes much easier." That's why he spent two years creating the recently-patented robotic device, KINARM, which provides quantitative, objective data required to assess performance and identify dysfunctions.

To be used at Western, University of Chicago
The team has also installed a KINARM system at the University of Western Ontario, and is currently developing one for the University of Chicago. "We hope to give other researchers an opportunity to use this technology in answering questions about limb movement that couldn't be posed before," says Dr. Scott.

Patented in 2000 through Queen's technology transfer office, PARTEQ Innovations, KINARM has hinge joints aligned with a person's shoulder and elbow allowing horizontal arm movements, and a computer projection system that provides virtual targets in the plane of the arm. Each joint can be manipulated independently, with different loads added selectively. This allows the device to independently manipulate the mechanics of the shoulder and elbow joints during multi-joint tasks.

"Now that we're learning how the brain organizes information related to movement and motor control, we can take that information into the clinic and start to look at different patient populations to develop diagnostic tools and provide quantitative information on what the specific deficits are," says Dr. Scott. "That helps to both identify sub-groups of different diseases or deficits, and to guide rehabilitation."
-end-
Funding for KINARM has come from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Queen's University start-up funds. Most recently, a grant from the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund (ORDCF) will allow commercialization of the device.

Queen's University

Related Stroke Articles from Brightsurf:

Stroke alarm clock may streamline and accelerate time-sensitive acute stroke care
An interactive, digital alarm clock may speed emergency stroke care, starting at hospital arrival and through each step of the time-sensitive treatment process.

Stroke patients with COVID-19 have increased inflammation, stroke severity and death
Stroke patients who also have COVID-19 showed increased systemic inflammation, a more serious stroke severity and a much higher rate of death, compared to stroke patients who did not have COVID-19, according a retrospective, observational, cross-sectional study of 60 ischemic stroke patients admitted to UAB Hospital between late March and early May 2020.

'Time is vision' after a stroke
University of Rochester researchers studied stroke patients who experienced vision loss and found that the patients retained some visual abilities immediately after the stroke but these abilities diminished gradually and eventually disappeared permanently after approximately six months.

More stroke awareness, better eating habits may help reduce stroke risk for young adult African-Americans
Young African-Americans are experiencing higher rates of stroke because of health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, yet their perception of their stroke risk is low.

How to help patients recover after a stroke
The existing approach to brain stimulation for rehabilitation after a stroke does not take into account the diversity of lesions and the individual characteristics of patients' brains.

Kids with headache after stroke might be at risk for another stroke
A new study has found a high incidence of headaches in pediatric stroke survivors and identified a possible association between post-stroke headache and stroke recurrence.

High stroke impact in low- and middle-income countries examined at 11th World Stroke Congress
Less wealthy countries struggle to meet greater need with far fewer resources.

Marijuana use might lead to higher risk of stroke, World Stroke Congress to be told
A five-year study of hospital statistics from the United States shows that the incidence of stroke has risen steadily among marijuana users even though the overall rate of stroke remained constant over the same period.

We need to talk about sexuality after stroke
Stroke survivors and their partners are not adequately supported to deal with changes to their relationships, self-identity, gender roles and intimacy following stroke, according to new research from the University of Sydney.

Standardized stroke protocol can ensure ELVO stroke patients are treated within 60 minutes
A new study shows that developing a standardized stroke protocol of having neurointerventional teams meet suspected emergent large vessel occlusion (ELVO) stroke patients upon their arrival at the hospital achieves a median door-to-recanalization time of less than 60 minutes.

Read More: Stroke News and Stroke Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.