Computers & Physical Therapy

After a stroke, patients may have trouble walking and unable to regain the gait they had before suffering a stroke. By using computers, clinicians are now able to determine the most effective rehabilitation treatment prescription for a patient. This is necessary since clinicians don’t always have all the information needed to know which treatment approach to use or how the approach should be implemented to maximize walking recovery.

Researchers funded by the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) have developed a computational walking model that may help guide clinicians and patients recovery as well as possible after a stroke. Computational modeling uses computers to simulate and study the behavior of complex systems using mathematics, physics, and computer science.

Researchers are in the process of developing a computational modeling program capable of constructing a model of the patient from the patient’s walking data collected on a treadmill. Then the computer walking model should make it possible to predict how the patient will walk after the patient is finished with their planned rehabilitation treatment.

B.J. Fregly PhD and his team at the University of Florida developed a computational modeling approach and then tested the approach on a patient who had suffered a stroke.

The team first measured how the patient walked at his preferred speed on a treadmill. Using these measurements, they constructed a neuro musculoskeletal computer model of the patient that was personalized to the patient’s skeletal anatomy, foot contact pattern, and muscle force.

The team found that the personalized model was able to predict accurately the patient’s gait at a faster walking speed, even though no measurements at that speed were used for constructing the model.

Fregly and his team believe that this advance is the first step towards the creating personalized neurorehabilitation prescriptions by filling a critical gap in the current treatment planning process for stroke patients. The neurorehabilitation prescription would be able to ensure the patient is exercising using the proper force and torque.




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