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Pioneering Rehabilitation

Burke Medical Research Institute Scientist Awarded Grant from National Institutes of Health for Stroke Research

Released April 25, 2012

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 “Burke Medical Research Institute Scientist Awarded Grant from National Institutes of Health for Stroke Research

 WHITE PLAINS, NY – April 25, 2012 -- The Burke Medical Research Institute—the research entity of the Burke Rehabilitation Center—has been awarded a five-year, $3.25 million scientific research grant for stroke research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH is the nation’s medical research agency—supporting scientific studies resulting in important discoveries that improve health and save lives.

Stroke is the leading cause of serious and long-term disability in the United States, with approximately 795,000 Americans suffering a stroke annually. Stroke survivors are often left with residual motor dysfunction, which despite the best-known care, results in substantial personal, social and economic cost. This new NIH funding will allow continued studies Burke at to evaluate the clinical benefit of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation delivered prior to robotic motor training. It is the hope that the stimulation will improve clinical function in chronic stroke patients when performed over a 12-week period.

The principal investigator is Dylan Edwards, Ph.D., P.T., director of the Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and Human Motor Control Laboratory at the Burke Medical Research Institute and assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College. He has been studying the use of non-invasive electric stimulation in stroke and spinal cord injury patients for several years, and his work is considered at the forefront of the field.  

 According to Edwards, "Transcranial direct current stimulation and robotic movement training are emerging rehabilitation techniques that can enhance motor function in the long-term stroke survivor. We have previously shown evidence that brain stimulation can prime the brain for robotic movement therapy. We will now be testing the clinical benefit of combined therapy, where brain stimulation precedes each robotic training session.”

Edwards is conducting this study with fellow scientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They aim to understand the physiological and behavioral aspects of this emerging rehabilitation strategy, and anticipate that their “findings will guide the use of transcranial brain stimulation and physical therapy in post stroke patients in the future," Edwards adds.

 Along with potentially optimizing motor recovery in stroke, the study results may ultimately have broader application in other neurological disorders. According to Rajiv R. Ratan, M.D., Ph.D, executive director of the Burke Medical Research Institute and professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College, “The study could have significant impact because the researchers will determine if these combined therapies increase brain plasticity and help reduce disability in chronic stroke patients. This research could have far reaching implications for those suffering from stroke and other neurological injury such as traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. It could change the way we approach rehabilitation and ultimately help patients recover.”

The Burke Medical Research Institute has begun recruiting stroke patients for the study. If you or someone you know has had a stroke a minimum of one year ago and are still experiencing neurological issues or movement deficits, you may be eligible to participate in the study. The brain stimulation is considered safe and painless, and involves sitting quietly wearing a headband with the electrodes, and reading for 20mins prior to therapy. For additional information, please contact Avrielle Rykman, M.A., OTR/L at (914) 597-2220 or via email at arykman@burke.org.

Funded by grants and private donations, Burke’s Medical Research Institute is involved in cutting-edge basic, translational and clinical research, providing new knowledge that can become the basis for future rehabilitation therapies in the areas of stroke, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.

The Institute has recently added new research laboratories in the areas of pain, vision restoration and motor recovery. The institute strives to assist patients to recover more fully, not just decrease disability, which has been the focus of mainstream rehabilitation research historically.

Burke Rehabilitation Hospital is a private, not-for-profit, acute rehabilitation hospital. Founded in 1915, it is the only hospital in Westchester County dedicated solely to rehabilitation medicine. Burke offers both inpatient and outpatient programs for those who have experienced a disabling illness, traumatic injury or joint replacement surgery. Burke is both an acute rehabilitation hospital and medical research center. Burke’s world renowned doctors and therapists provide state-of-the-art ­treatment, while its research scientists at the Burke Medical Research Institute explore the frontiers of neurological and rehabilitation medicine. All share the Burke mission to ensure that every patient makes the fullest possible recovery from illness or injury regardless of their ability to pay.