System and Methods for Stroke Rehabilitation using Virtual and Augmented Reality

J. Daniels
Kinaptic, LLC,
United States

Keywords: stroke rehabilitation, wearable electronics, digital healthcare, virtual reality, augmented reality, neuroplasticity

Summary:

Stroke is the second leading cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability. Most of the victims of stroke end up immediately experiencing persistent paralysis of the upper limbs. Researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (F-MRI) have demonstrated that VR training systems can be used to create brain rewiring (i.e., cortical reorganization) in stroke patients. Although the human brain, and the brains of many animals, have now been shown to have a high degree of neuroplasticity, there needs to be an external prompt to effectively rewire a damaged brain. It has been shown that simple task repetition is not sufficient to induce neural plasticity and learning. To induce brain rewiring there needs to be an impetus that triggers the brain’s inherent capability to form new neuronal pathways. The ability to create neuronal pathways prompting for new brain connections using a motivating and enjoyable VR scene, along with computer-controlled involuntary muscles contractions, is at the core of Kinaptic’s patented VR Stroke Rehabilitation system. Kinaptic’s accelerated learning system provides rehabilitation to a stroke victim. The various locations of the brain related to the processing of sound, touch and vision can be controllably and simultaneously stimulated so that a weakened brain’s processing center can be strengthen or rewired through the support of stronger, intact, brain sensory stimulation processing centers. For example, a stroke victim with damage to the right-side motor cortex may have a loss of function in the motor control of the fingers of the left hand. Using Kinaptic’s VR Stroke Rehabilitation system, haptic sensory cues and involuntary muscle contractions are applied to the fingers of the left hand. These touch and movement sensory cues stimulate the damaged portions of the brain, while corresponding, synchronized virtual reality visual and audio cues reinforce the re-learning or rewiring of the damaged portions of the brain.