A robotic device may help young stroke survivors on their road to recovery, a new study has found.

Perinatal stroke occurs in term and near-term infants, of which one of the most common types is hemiparetic cerebral palsy. Although motor impairments and management are more pronounced in literature and discussions, the role of sensory deficits may also have a significant impact. However, its contribution to disability is quite challenging to measure clinically.

Now, researchers from the University of Calgary aim to use robotics to measure, in a quantitative manner, the position sense dysfunction of children with hemiparesis (weak entire left or right body side) and perinatal stroke. They also want to identify the association of this condition to other typical clinical parameters.

Robots Aiding Kids

The study involved children aged between 6 and 19 years old. They all had at least one type of perinatal stroke as confirmed via magnetic resonance imaging.

The subjects were asked to complete position matching tasks including video games while sitting in an exoskeleton robotic device called KINARM. The scientists then measured the variability, shift and extension or contraction area exhibited by the patients, both in situations where they could and could not see what they were doing.

The findings of the observation were compared with results from other stroke and control gruops, as well as with other clinical disability and sensory function measurement tools. All in all, 40 stroke patients were studied against 60 healthy controls.

The results showed that variability of position sense was faulty in stroke patients compared with controls with vision impeded.

When vision was restored, the impairment persisted.

Future Looking Bright

Looking at position sense or what experts call proprioception via robotics proves to be a good assessment tool for children with perinatal stroke.

"Disordered position sense may represent a therapeutic target in hemiparetic cerebral palsy," the authors write.

Senior author Adam Kirton says the sensory aspect, which the robot helped the team explore, is a vast area that has not been measured in the past. Now that they are able to quantify it and identify what's wrong, they can start to test new treatments that focus on sensation instead of mere movements.

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.