Virtual Reality Stroke Therapy (Video)

Virtual Reality Stroke Therapy (Video)
March 28, 2017

Each year, nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke. Many survivors suffer paralysis or weakness. Researchers at Johns Hopkins are working on an unusual new way to help them.


David Stevenson says a robotic arm and a game helped him regain movement after a stroke earlier this year left his left side paralyzed.


"My arm, my leg I couldn't move at all. I had slurred speech and my face was drooping," he says.


During his recovery, David tested this new technology in a study at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.


"It’s just like you're playing a video game, except it's actually helping you," David explains.


The "Kata Design Group" is behind the technology. The team of artists, neurologists and engineers create interactive games to help patients move again. 


"It's a way to make them in a playful, exploratory way, help them explore movement in a way they otherwise wouldn't try," says Dr. John Krakauer, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Kata Design Group.


Researchers say the games allow patients to make natural movements they don't typically do during physical and occupational therapy.


His colleague Dr. Omar Ahmad says, "The right kind of movements that will allow the brain to rewire so they can move like they did before they had an injury"


The technology is  now being tested with a larger group.  David hopes it will help others recover.


"Most people would be happy where I'm at, but I still want to be completely 100%," he says.


Researchers hope the technology can one day help injured war veterans.


It's important to mention that if you get to a hospital  within 3 to 4 hours of stroke symptoms, doctors can give you a medicine that may prevent more serious disability.

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