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BMRI Highlight: Robotics Clinic to Help Patients Regain Motor Function

Published December 6, 2013

In keeping with Burke Medical Research Institute’s mission to help reduce disability from illness or injury, the institute is pleased to highlight its 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 were custom-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 current research programs but have arm or hand weakness as a result of a neurological illness or injury. This is a self-pay clinic but patients will be provided with a detailed receipt for possible insurance reimbursement. Program participants will also be eligible for discounted room rates at select area hotels.

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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