Category Archives: Stroke

Robots support neural and physical rehab in stroke, cerebral palsy


Georgia Tech’s  Ayanna Howard has developed Darwin, a socially interactive robot that encourages children to play an active role in physical therapy.

Specific targeting children with cerebral palsy (who are involved in current studies),  autism, or tbi, the robot is designed to function in the home, to supplement services provided by  clinicians.  It engages users as their human therapist would — monitoring performance, and providing motivation and feedback.In a recent experiment, motion trackers monitored user movements as Darwin offered encouragement, and demonstrated movements when they were not performed correctly.  Researchers claimed that wth the exception of one case, the robot’s impact was “significantly positive.

Darwin is still evolving (pun intended) and has not yet been commercialized.

At MIT,  Newman Lab researcher Hermano Igo Krebs has been using robots for gait and balance neurorehabilitation in stroke and cerebral palsy patients since 1989.  Krebs’s technology continues to be incorporated into  Burke Rehabilitation hospital treatment plans.

Join ApplySci at Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Boston – Featuring Roz Picard, Tom Insel, John Rogers and Nathan Intrator – September 19, 2017 at the MIT Media Lab

Self regulating patch optimizes blood thinner delivery


UNC and  NC State researchers have developed a promising, self-regulating, Heparin releasing patch, meant to optimize levels of the blood thinner in one’s body.  It has only been tested on animals, but was found to  be more effective at preventing thrombosis than traditional drug delivery methods.

Current protocol requires regular blood testing, to prevent hemorrhaging from a too-high dose, or, of course, thrombosis from an inadequate one.

The patch uses microneedles made of a polymer that consists of hyaluronic acid and  Heparin. It responds to thrombin, an enzyme that initiates blood clotting. When elevated thrombin levels come into contact with a microneedle, the enzymes break the amino acid chains that bind the Heparin to the HA, releasing the Heparin into the blood stream.

ApplySci’s 6th   Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley  –  February 7-8 2017 @ Stanford   |   Featuring:   Vinod Khosla – Tom Insel – Zhenan Bao – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator – John Rogers – Roozbeh Ghaffari –Tarun Wadhwa – Eythor Bender – Unity Stoakes – Mounir Zok – Krishna Shenoy – Karl Deisseroth – Shahin Farshchi – Casper de Clercq – Mary Lou Jepsen – Vivek Wadhwa – Dirk Schapeler – Miguel Nicolelis


Robotic hand exoskeleton for stroke patients


ETH professor Roger Gassert has developed a robotic exoskeleton that allows stroke patients  to perform daily activities by supporting motor and somatosensory functions.

His vision is that “instead of performing exercises in an abstract situation at the clinic, patients will be able to integrate them into their daily life at home, supported by a robot.” He observes that existing exoskeletons are heavy, rendering patients unable to lift their hands. They also have difficulty feeling objects and exerting the right amount of force. To address this, the palm of the hand is left free in the new device.

Gassert’s Kyushu University colleague Jumpei Arata developed a mechanism for the finger featuring three overlapping leaf springs. A motor moves the middle spring, which transmits the force to the different segments of the finger through the other two springs. The fingers thus automatically adapt to the shape of the object the patient wants to grasp.

To reduce the weight of the exoskeleton, motors are placed on the patient’s back and  force is transmitted using a bicycle brake cable. ApplySci hopes that the size and weight of the motor can be reduced, allowing it to be integrated into the exoskeleton in its next phase.

Gassert wants to make the exoskeleton thought controlled, and is using MRI and EEG to detect, in the brain,  a patient’s intention to move his or her hand, and communicating this to the device.

ApplySci’s 6th   Wearable Tech + Digital Health + NeuroTech Silicon Valley  –  February 7-8 2017 @ Stanford   |   Featuring:   Vinod Khosla – Tom Insel – Zhenan Bao – Phillip Alvelda – Nathan Intrator – John Rogers – Mary Lou Jepsen – Vivek Wadhwa – Miguel Nicolelis – Roozbeh Ghaffari – Unity Stoakes – Mounir Zok – Krishna Shenoy

Machine learning for faster stroke diagnosis


MedyMatch uses big data and artificial intelligence to improve stroke diagnosis, with the goal of faster treatment.

Patient CT photos are scanned  and immediately compared with hundreds of thousands of other patient results.  Almost any deviation from a normal CT is quickly detected.

With current methods, medical imaging errors can occur when emergency room radiologists miss subtle aspects of brain scans, leading to delayed treatment. Fast detection of stroke can prevent paralysis and death.

The company claims that it can detect irregularities more accurately than a human can. Findings are presented as 3D brain images, enabling a doctor to make better informed decisions. The cloud-based system allows scans to be uploaded from any location.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health San Francisco – April 5, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

NeuroTech San Francisco – April 6, 2016 @ the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC – June 7, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences

NeuroTech NYC – June 8, 2016 @ the New York Academy of Sciences


Stroke detecting headset prototype


Samsung’s Early Detection Sensor & Algorithm Package (EDSAP), developed by  Se-hoon Lim, is meant to detect early signs of stroke.

A multiple sensor headset records electrical impulses in the brain, algorithms determine the likelihood of a stroke in one minute, and results are presented in a mobile app.  EDSAP can also analyze stress and sleep patterns, and potentially be used to monitor heart activity.  The company believes that the system can one day be built into one’s own glasses.

Wearable Tech + Digital Health NYC 2015 – June 30 @ New York Academy of Sciences

Microwave helmet for early stroke diagnosis, treatment


Medfield Diagnostics and  Chalmers University have developed “Strokefinder,” a  microwave helmet that quickly determines whether a person has had a stroke, enabling early and appropriate treatment.  It has been tested on 45 patients.

The helmet uses microwave typography to determine whether a stroke is caused by a clot or bleeding.   Strokes caused by clots require a drug to dissolve the clot within 4.5 hours.    Less than 10% of patients diagnosed by CT or MRI get anti-clotting drugs on time, as too much time often elapses between a patient’s hospital arrival and a diagnostic scan. Strokes caused by bleeding require different treatment.

An early prototype involved a modified bike helmet and was able to differentiate between the two types of stroke accurately some of the time. The team has since refined the device, building a custom helmet that better adapts to different skulls. The plan is to carry out a large scale study in order to improve the predictive power of the algorithms.

Non-invasive, nanoparticle method for identifying atherosclerosis plaques


Case Western‘s Michael Bruckman and colleagues have developed a multifunctional nanoparticle that pinpoints blood vessel plaques caused by atherosclerosis using MRI.  The goal is to create a non-invasive method of identifying heart attack and stroke causing plaques vulnerable to rupture, in time for treatment.

Currently doctors can only identify narrowing blood vessels caused by plaque accumulation via incision and the insertion of a catheter inside a blood vessel in the arm, groin or neck. The catheter emits a dye that enables X-rays to show the narrowing.

The researchers found that a nanoparticle built from a rod-shaped virus, commonly found on tobacco, locates and illuminates plaque in arteries more effectively, with a fraction of the dye.  The tailored nanoparticles target plaque biomarkers, opening the possibility that particles can be programmed to identify vulnerable plaques from stable.  Untargeted dyes alone cannot accomplish this.

Kinect training promotes brain reorganization after stroke


Sun Yat-sen University researchers claim that Kinect based virtual reality training could promote the recovery of upper limb motor function in subacute stroke patients, and brain reorganization by Kinect based training may be linked to the contralateral sensorimotor cortex.  They have completed a study in which they located the target brain region for Kinect based intervention and preliminarily explored the mechanism of the system for physical rehabilitation of upper limb dysfunction.

Thought controlled device helps stroke patients move limbs


Professor Vivek Prabhakaran at the University of Wisconsin is developing a device that combines a brain-computer interface with electrical stimulation of damaged muscles to help stroke patients relearn how to move limbs.  Eight patients who had lost movement in one hand have been through six weeks of therapy with the device. They reported improvements in their ability to complete daily tasks.

Patients wear a cap of electrodes that picks up brain signals. Those signals are decoded by a computer. The computer sends tiny jolts of electricity through wires to sticky pads placed on the muscles of a patient’s paralyzed arm. The jolts act like nerve impulses, telling the muscles to move.  A video game prompts patients to try to hit a target by moving a ball with their affected arm. Patients practice with the game for two hours, every other day.

Researchers scanned the patients’ brains before, during and a month after they finished 15 sessions with the device.  The more patients practiced, the more they were able to train their brains.

NIH funds robots for the vision impaired, stroke patients, doctors performing catheter ablation


Three projects have been awarded funding by the National Institutes of Health.  All involve robots that cooperate with people and adapt to changing environments to improve human capabilities and enhance medical procedures.

  • A co-robotic navigation device for the blind: Cang Ye at University of Arkansas is incorporating 3D imaging sensor technology into the white cane. This enables it to detect and relay to the user critical information about the environment, like when there’s a potential obstacle in the way.  In related research, Professor Amnon Shashua at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, through his company OrCam, uses Artificial Vision to compensate for lost visual abilities, and Professor Amir Amedi at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is also developing cutting edge technology to help the vision impaired. His projects include reading in the blind, sensory substitution devices, multisensory perception, topographic brain, and seeing with music and sound.
  • MRI-guided co-robotic catheter: During traditional catheter ablation for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, one of the most common arrhythmias, a catheter with an electrode on its tip is threaded through a vein in a patient’s groin up to the heart. Doctors destroy tissue at certain points on the heart in order to prevent the occurrence of irregular heart activity. The constant movement of the heart and blood can make that process difficult. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are developing a catheter that uses robotic planning strategies to compensate for those movements to increase accuracy of procedures in conjunction with MRI.
  • Platform for exploration of robotic ankle exoskeleton control: Researchers at North Carolina State and Carnegie Mellon are developing a method to compare different wearable devices to assist people recovering from stroke.