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Pioneering Rehabilitation

Burke Medical Research Institute Opens New Robotics Clinic to Help Patients Regain Motor Function

Published May 1, 2013

In keeping with Burke Medical Research Institute’s mission to help reduce disability from illness or injury, the institute has launched a Restorative Neurology Clinic to assist patients regain movement through robot-assisted therapy. It is appropriate for those with decreased range of motion caused by neurological illness or injury such as stroke, spinal cord injury or brain injury, and those whose motor recovery has stalled.

The clinic’s approach is based on findings from years of study in motor function and through collaboration with other medical rehabilitation experts. Studies have shown that engaging in this form of robotic therapy can lead to significant and meaningful improvements in arm function in patients who have had a stroke.

There are two types of robots used in the clinic and both werecustom-designed for Burke by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The robots provide customized, goal-directed therapy aimed at building arm function, strength and re-training of the nerves from the brain to body connection. The first robot is the Planar Robot, which focuses on shoulder and elbow function. The other robot is the Wrist Robot, which helps to regain function and  strengthen the wrist and forearm. Both robots gently assist patients with initiation, accuracy and smoothness of natural movement. As patients’ actions become more accurate and stronger in their movement patterns, the robots will adjust to require the patient to initiate more movement.

According to Dylan Edwards, Ph.D., director of the Restorative Neurology Clinic, and current director Burke’s Brain Stimulation and Robotics research program, “Burke is already recognized as a leader in neurological research and has been for many years. We have strong demand from patients in the community for access to state-of-the-art rehabilitation technology and practices. The Restorative Neurology Clinic brings the robot-assisted therapy that was previously only available to those involved in research trials to people in the community. It is our intention that over time, we will be able to offer other state of the art therapies beyond robotics and firmly establish Burke as the place for advanced therapies.”

The Restorative Neurology Clinic offers six-week intensive workshops for individuals who do not qualify for Burke's current research programs but have arm or hand weakness as a result of a neurological illness or injury. The workshops are now on-going throughout the year. This is a self-pay clinic but patients will be provided with a detailed receipt for possible insurance reimbursement. Program participants from out of the area are eligible for discounted room rates at select hotels near the Burke campus.

Founded in 1978 as the medical research affiliate of the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, the Burke Medical Research Institute is one of the few free-standing rehabilitation research facilities with dedicated programs in basic research (understanding how the normal brain functions and how it is affected by disease), translational research (understanding how to bring basic research to the patient bedside), and clinical research (testing of new therapies in patients). These research endeavors are funded by private donations and through highly competitive grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health and private and public foundations.

For more information or to obtain an enrollment packet, please call Avrielle Rykman, MA, OTR/L, clinical robotics research coordinator, at (914) 597-2111 or email robotics@burke.org.

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