News Release: Emory Healthcare , School of Medicine , School of Nursing

Mar. 29,  2011

Post-Stroke Hand Mentor Trial Now Offered at Emory

Program combines robotic therapy with convenience of home tele-health monitoring

News Article ImagePhoto courtesy: Kinetic Muscles, Inc.

ATLANTA – For patients who have recently suffered from a stroke, a new trial currently underway at Emory University combining scientific robotic therapy with the convenience of in-home rehabilitation may now be an option for patients hoping to regain some strength and mobility in their affected hand.  

The Home Arm Assistance Progression Initiative (HAAPI) Trial is aimed at evaluating a therapy delivery system for stroke patients that provides accessible, affordable stroke care, incorporating the robotic Hand Mentor™ device with in-home tele-monitoring by rehabilitation experts at Emory.  

Manufactured by Kinetic Muscles, Inc., the Hand Mentor™ device is an in-home, upper-limb robotic device that communicates therapy progress back to medical providers to aid in stroke recovery. With use, the device encourages coordinated hand and wrist motion for the functional improvement of grasp and release while discouraging uncoordinated motions. Ongoing therapy provides new experiences and learning that incorporate cognitive planning, timing and increased difficulty.  

According to Steven L. Wolf, PhD, professor of rehabilitation medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and lead investigator, millions of Americans face challenges in accessing health care, with rural residents experiencing more limitations of activity caused by chronic conditions such as stroke than urban residents. Additionally, insurance carriers often do not cover lengthy rehabilitation programs for stroke survivors, causing many patients to lose the proven benefits of aggressive therapy following a stroke.  

“A tremendous amount of research has led to advances in stroke therapy through the identification of the importance of task practice and intensity of therapy.  However, we know that many patients, in particular those living in rural and underserved areas, do not receive quality post-stroke rehabilitation,” says Dr. Wolf. “To develop a more coordinated and consistent approach to stroke care, the American Stroke Association has developed the stroke systems of care model (SSCM).  One of the recommendations to arise from that model was the implementation of telemedicine (the use of telecommunications technologies to provide medical information and services at a distance) to increase access to stroke care especially in remote areas.”  

Wolf says the goal of the HAAPI trial is to help improve hand function in post stroke patients, while also accelerating the adoption of home-based robot-aided neuro-rehabilitation, combined with telemedicine for both rural and underserved stroke survivors.  

“We hope to create a shift in neuro-rehabilitation therapy delivery by presenting to stroke survivors, caregivers, hospitals and clinics an appealing business model that provides an accessible, affordable system of neuro-rehabilitation.  Robotic therapy devices that are remotely monitored by expert clinicians are an excellent solution to improving the overall quality of healthcare and quality of life for some patients.”  

Each year more than 700,000 Americans suffer from stroke, and approximately 85 percent of stroke survivors experience partial paralysis on one side of the body. The annual health care cost for stroke care is approximately $45 billion.  

As part of the HAAPI trial, patients will be assigned to one of two groups. One group will receive the Hand Mentor™ device for use in the home immediately. The other group will be trained at home and will be trained as part of a home therapy program.

Participants should:

  • Be over 21 years of age and six months or less post-stroke
  • Have difficulty accessing a stroke rehabilitation program
  • Have some level of voluntary activity on weak side of the body
  • Be able to follow instructions
  • Live at home or independently and be medication stable for 3 months

Participants whose stroke occurred more than six months ago, have a difficult time understanding instructions or remembering, have severe pain or limited movement in weak arm, or are currently taking medications to make the affected arm less stiff, will not be considered for the program.  

For more information, please call (404) 712-8685 or visit www.rehabmed.emory.edu

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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