The Burden of Stroke:
Nearly 800,000 people have a stroke every year, 140,000 of which cause death. For the survivors, stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. About 40% of stroke victims have permanent disabilities in movement, speech, or thinking and memory, which often makes it impossible for them to perform everyday tasks or go to work.
What we Know:
About 75% of people who suffer a stroke have some form of disability afterwards. Rehabilitation provides benefit for many stroke patients, and studies show that early, repeated activity offers the best chance at regaining muscle strength and mobility in affected areas of the body. Motivation and a sense of progress are critical to ensuring that a patient is consistent with their rehab. Improved rehab techniques may increase treatment success and quality of life for stroke victims, by keeping them engaged and motivated to practice often.
Our Plan to Help:
Dr. Ania Busza, of the University of Rochester, plans to use a virtual reality device to aid the rehabilitation of stroke victims. This device will “read” electrical signals from the surface of the patient’s arm muscles, and use that information to move a virtual arm, which will look to the patient as if it is their own. Stroke rehabilitation can be incredibly demoralizing, as it can take immense effort for a victim to move their arm even a fraction of an inch. Dr. Busza’s virtual reality device will allow patients to see themselves perform a full range of motion for their efforts, boosting confidence and motivating them to keep practicing. This consistent practice is critical to the success of stroke rehabilitation.