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New technology of “mental training” will help to rehabilitate apoplectics

December 14th, 2021
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University scientists together with their colleagues performed testing of a new BCI-based vibrotactile neurofeedback interface technology. It allows conducting the so-called "mental trainings" that help people to recover after a stroke. This invention accelerated BCI mastering due to the signal applied to the patient's hand following the command given by the brain. The BCI based on the vibrotactile neurofeedback interface technology will make the post-stroke patients' locomotor functions recover a lot faster and more efficiently, while the use thereof will become more comfortable and practical. This study was published in the "IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering" Journal.

Among all death causes the apoplectic stroke is ranked second with about 6 million people dying therefrom annually. It is quite often that the apoplectic stroke involves such bad after-effects as motor impairment, speech disorder and other consequences. Only 8% of stroke patients can get back to usual life, while 70-80% become disabled. Around 30% of them require constant care. Rehabilitation is of vast importance in the course of recovery of physical, psychological and professional activities and independence of daily living.

BCI-based approaches are claimed to be the most prospective way of rehabilitation. The program perceives the activity of certain brain regions of even a profoundly paralyzed patient and then deciphers such signals as an intention of a particular action. Because the patient's body cannot yet move in a normal manner, either a BCI exoskeleton or a robot does this work instead. Another option includes causing contraction of the relevant muscle groups, as with multiple repetitions the nerve tracts lost after the stroke may recover. These rehabilitation methodologies ensure active participation of the patient in the training process and high intension thereof during different recovery periods and at the same time decrease the medical personnel workload.

Susanna Gordleeva says: "Though BCI development is on a rather high level, it features a number of downsides. Thus, the interface command is formed for as long as several minutes, but the patient will have to learn doing it for quite a while, too. Besides, to prepare and control the process, an operator is always required. Moreover, control over BCI requires a person's effort to the extent comparable with lifting of a very heavy weight, but the result is not that much of a success. Our invention does not feature these downsides, and, hopefully, it will allow easing the post-stroke rehabilitation and enable to overcome the BCI velocity and accuracy constraints".

The research officers of Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (Kaliningrad), Lobachevsky University (Nizhniy Novgorod) and Innopolis University (Innopolis) showed a new BCI-based vibrotactile neurofeedback interface technology, which activates the feedback using multi-channel skin surface stimulation. To achieve this, a special construction connected to different parts of the patient's body was used, so that the test subject received a vibration signal. The experiment consisted of four stages with ten healthy volunteers participating.

The first day was dedicated to training instructions. The second stage included BCI-based training supported by a visual stimulation, whereby the volunteers had to execute one of the three commands of a computer screen: close either a left or a right fist, or "rest" (focus on own breath). The third stage was a control one, where, despite of other BCI signals, the "rest" command had to be executed. The final stage was carried out using a BCI based on tactile stimulation, so that the test subject received a vibration signal if the command was classified right. To evaluate the procedure efficiency, the results of training with and without vibrotactile BCI were compared; besides, measurements were taken in the course of training as well.

Susanna Gordleeva added: "The findings of this study showed, that using the BCI-based training device with tactile stimulation increases the activity of the brain region, which operates the locomotion system, and due to such stimulation the nerve tract recovery shows more efficiency. As we go forward, we plan to examine the influence of the new technology training on the sense functions of aged people and post-stroke patients".

Provided by Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University

Citation: New technology of “mental training” will help to rehabilitate apoplectics (2021, December 14) retrieved 18 May 2022 from
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