In the USA, the leading cause of disability among adults is stroke. The majority of victims are left having to go to therapy to try and relearn motor skills and carry out activities they could before the stroke. Stroke may affect different organs; thus, the therapy is dependent on the area injured. You can have speech therapy or occupational therapy, depending on the area. Therapists aim at helping you become semi-independent or entirely dependent.
stroke, what is it
Damage or blockage of a vessel that leads to the brain leads to the death of the connected brain cells. It leads to brain damage which results in some paralysis depending on the area connected. Most brain functionality affects the opposite side, i.e. the left brain hemisphere controls the body functions on the right side and vice versa. So if your left brain hemisphere were to suffer damage, your right arm, leg, or torso might be affected.
Stroke victims commonly suffer from hemiparesis, the weakness or inability to move one side of the body. The muscles lack memory since the brain cells are damaged, making that part hard to function.
Recovering functionality is not impossible. Depending on the injury type, patients can recover full use of their limbs through therapy sessions, which have greatly improved due to developments in technology. The one common factor about the different modes of therapy is the frequent repetition of movements.
There is no specific number to do the trick. The key is to keep repeating till a signal is created from the muscle to the brain until it becomes an almost automatic response. Take, for example, a rough path that grows smoother and straighter the longer it has people using it. Neural pathways work in the same way. The more you redo the tasks, the more you create muscle memory.
One of the primary therapy options for stroke victims is biofeedback. It is a treatment that focuses on helping the patient learn how to activate the unused muscle-brain pathways. Electromyographic biofeedback (EMG-BFB) helps the patient in muscle functionality and toning.
Biofeedback helps you isolate which muscle you should use when two different muscles work in contradiction to each other. The biofeedback will allow you to know which muscles to relax and need to be in use. With continuous biofeedback therapy, the muscles will fire up at the right time, avoiding spasticity.
Stimulation of muscles can be through auditory or visual biofeedback. Virtual reality gaming is beneficial as it gives the user realistic impressions while avoiding risks involved with real-world experiences.
Robotic Arm Therapy
Robotic arm therapy is used mainly for those with severe cases of paralysis whose chances of recovering upper extremity functionality as lower. This kind of therapy gives the patient upper extremity movement practice.
Robotics also helps track one’s movement while assisting the user. Considering the number of joints in just the arm alone, it helps when the robotic arm can record movements and help the user train and repeat movements that will help in recovery. Most patients have a quick recovery rate during the first three months, after which they enter a flat period. With the robotic arm, training of the muscles is much easier and progress within those first three months gets impressive results.
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However, designers and clinicians differ since clinicians intended for the device to assist in tracking but preferred the patient carry the action out by themselves. Designers of the robotic arm are more interested in making it fancier. Thus, they tend to create a robot that does all the heavy lifting, preventing the full development of muscle memory.
Therapy treatments that employ biofeedback devices and robotic arms are essential and have helped stroke victims recover partial or total use of their limbs. Technology has allowed us to make use of virtual reality, ensuring continuous use of muscles and building muscle memory by repetitive movements. Patients should keep on using their affected limbs and redoing tasks. The key is not to hurry, as recovery is a step-by-step process. Consultation with your clinician is the best way to know which would be best for you since injuries are unique and each requires unique treatment.