Improve post-stroke hand function

EIT Health has awarded an innovation project aimed at developing a new technology for improving hand function in post-stroke patients. Prof. Volker Dietz of the Balgrist University Hospital and Dr. Miriam Schrafl-Altermatt, together with the group of Prof. Robert Riener, both at ETH Zurich, and the company Tyromotion, will develop a device for post-stroke patients to train cooperative hand movements.

Recent research has shown that if we perform a task for which we need both hands, e.g. opening a bottle, our two brain hemispheres work together. Experiments have shown that in healthy individuals, electrical stimulation of the left arm elicits a reaction in the right arm and vice versa. In stroke patients this neural coupling is impaired, but stimulation of the unaffected arm still leads to an activation of the affected arm.

Improvement of healthcare for elderly post-stroke patients
This observation led the team to a new approach for the rehabilitation of hand function after a stroke. By training both hands in coordinated tasks, the unaffected hemisphere becomes involved and can support the control of movements of the affected arm and hand.
The project involves the development of a device designed to allow the training of cooperative hand movements using virtual reality programs representing tasks performed during daily life activities of (elderly) post-stroke subjects. The device will be tested on post-stroke patients in the Balgrist University Hospital and will be brought to market by the company Tyromotion.

About EIT Health
EIT Health is a consortium of 50 core and 90 associate partners, consisting of leading companies and universities from across 14 EU countries, including ETH Zurich. EIT Health is set up as a knowledge and innovation community (KIC) with the goal to contribute to increasing the competitiveness of European industry, improve the quality of life of Europe’s citizens and the sustainability of healthcare system. More

See also article in ETH News