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Can stroke survivors re-learn normal walking? Understanding functional recovery and effects of exoskeleton-assisted training.

Animal models suggest a limited time window of increased repair activity in the brain during the first weeks after damage, for example after a stroke. Within this time window, responsiveness to therapy is increased suggesting that this is the optimal time to start intensive rehabilitation. In great contrast, early rehabilitation is experienced by stroke patients as a time of being physical inactive. This lack of rehabilitation might explain rather disappointing mobility outcome, since a great amount of stroke survivors struggle to achieve independent community ambulation. The World Health Organisation expects an increase to 1.5 million new cases of stroke per year in 2025. If innovation in rehabilitation cannot be provided, the increasing incidence of stroke will inevitably lead to a growing chronic stroke population and a great burden for our society. A novel therapeutic strategy is a wearable exoskeleton. This device allows an earlier initiation of more intensive rehabilitation as it assists patients in walking even if they are severely affected. This technology has the potential to change acute stroke rehabilitation from an inactive into a motivating, active time as it allows early training of meaningful activity. However, due to its recent development this type of therapy is not yet investigated. We aim to fill this gap with the proposed project by investigating the effectiveness of this approach and provide evidence on an optimal time window for rehabilitation.
Date:1 Jan 2019 →  9 Feb 2023
Disciplines:Rehabilitation engineering, Biomechanics, Behavioural neuroscience, Neurological and neuromuscular diseases, Rehabilitation
Project type:Collaboration project