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Neuro-rehabilitation: What are the limits?

A new approach to rehabilitate severe hemiplegic patients is presented. This treatment is innovative and provoking. Its outcomes suggest that the central nervous system can exhibit higher levels of plasticity than previously thought possible. A neuroprosthesis for reaching and grasping was applied both to acute and long-term hemiplegic patients with severe unilateral arm paralysis. Patients who were administered standard physiotherapy and occupational therapy alone, appropriate for hemiplegic patients with unilateral upper extremity paralysis (controls), were compared to those patients who were treated with the neuroprosthesis in addition to standard physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Prior to joining the program, both the acute and long-term hemiplegic patients had a completely paralyzed arm, which was either flaccid stage 1 of the Chedoke McMaster Stages of Motor Recovery, or stage 2 of motor recovery. After the neuro-rehabilitation therapy program was completed, all four patients that were treated were able to perform reaching and grasping tasks voluntarily, without any assistance. During the same time period, the control patients did not improve their arm and hand functions significantly. This study provides evidence that neuro-rehabilitation therapy can be successfully used to restore reaching and grasping functions in hemiplegic patients with severe unilateral arm paralysis.
Type of Seminar:
Public Seminar
Dr. Milos Popovic, Ass. Prof.
Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Eng.University of Toronto, and Lyndhurst CentreToronto Rehabilitation Institute, Canada
Jul 10, 2003   14:00

ETH Zentrum, Physikstrasse 3, Zurich, Building ETL, Room K 25
Contact Person:

Prof. M.Morari
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Biographical Sketch:
In 2001 Milos R. Popovic was appointed assistant professor at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto and research scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, both in Toronto, Canada. From 1997 until 2001, he was leading the Rehabilitation Engineering Group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and the Paraplegic Center of the University Hospital Balgrist (ParaCare), both in Zurich, Switzerland. From 1996 until 1997, he worked for Honeywell Aerospace in Toronto, Canada. He received the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1996, and the Dipl. Electrical Engineer degree from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1990. His interests are in neuromuscular systems, assistive technology and neuro-rehabilitation. Together with Dr. Thierry Keller in 1997 he received the Swiss National Science Foundation Technology Transfer Award - 1st place.