Our charity is working in partnership with MedCity, an organization that promotes investment and business in life science. We’re funding projects that bring together researchers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to develop digital technologies or medical devices which will improve stroke diagnosis or support people to rebuild their lives after stroke.
You can read about one of the projects below.
Why is this research needed?
It’s very common for stroke survivors to experience difficulty moving their arms and hands after stroke. This can have a huge impact on their day-to-day life and independence. They might not be able to cook and eat meals on their own, and can struggle to get washed and dressed.
Physical rehabilitation can help, but for the best chance of treatments making a real difference, stroke survivors must repeat exercises many times, for a long time. This can be a challenge for many reasons. For example, they need to stay motivated, feel they have energy to practice, and remember how to do the exercises correctly.
New technologies could make it easier and more fun for stroke survivors to practice exercises on their own. This would hopefully increase the amount of time they spend on rehabilitation, which we know is important for making a good recovery after stroke. It also means that healthcare professional’s time can be used most effectively in face-to-face rehabilitation sessions.
NeuroPlatform is a digital application and exercise device that can tell stroke survivors how they’re doing in their practice and increase their motivation to keep it up.
Early research has shown the new technology holds promise for encouraging stroke survivors to practice exercises at home. But, before the NeuroPlatform can be made available to stroke survivors across the UK, more research is needed to find out if it can be effectively used in the NHS and at different stages of a stroke survivors’ journey to rebuilding their life.
What are the project team hoping to do?
By working together, Neurofenix and the research team at Brunel University of London hope to understand how NeuroPlatform could be made available to stroke survivors across the UK at the early stages of their recovery.
Over six weeks, they will test its use in stroke units and at home with Early Supported Discharge (ESD) teams in 24 stroke survivors with difficulty moving their arms and hands.
They will collect information to:
- Find out if stroke survivors and healthcare professionals like using the NeuroPlatform, and whether it’s possible, safe and acceptable, to use it at the early stages of a stroke survivor’s recovery.
- Start to explore the difference the NeuroPlatform technology could make to how stroke survivors recover arm movement.
- Show if it’s worthwhile funding further research into the difference the technology could make to stroke survivors’ recovery and its cost-effectiveness as a treatment option.
During the study, they’ll interview stroke survivors and healthcare staff to find out more about the problems they face with treatment for physical difficulties after stroke. They’ll use this information to develop the NeuroPlatform and other new technologies aimed at helping to improve stroke rehabilitation.
What difference can this project make to the lives of those affected by stroke?
The majority of stroke survivors experience weakness in their arms and hands after stroke, this can last for a long time and reduce their quality of life.
Right now, the most effective treatments for helping stroke survivors regain movement involve high intensity, repetitive practice. But the opportunities and support for stroke survivors to practice their exercises with healthcare professionals, as well as on their own, are lacking.
New technology has the potential to improve therapy for stroke survivors by helping to increase how much they can practice their exercises safely, effectively and in a way that they find enjoyable without needing face-to-face assistance from healthcare professionals.
By finding out if the NeuroPlatfom digital application and exercise tool could be introduced to stroke survivors early in their recovery, when rehabilitation practice can be most effective, this research could help more stroke survivors maximise the chance of reclaiming movement in their arm and hands.
Who is in the project team?
Neurofenix is a small business that creates technologies with the expertise of engineers, stroke survivors and healthcare professionals in stroke, hoping to improve the tools available for stroke rehabilitation. The research carried out by this project team will increase what is known about how a new technology, called NeuroPlatform, owned by Neurofenix could support stroke survivors to recover movement in their arms and hands.
NeuroPlatform is a digital application for tablet computers that has games and support designed to encourage users to practice exercises for the hand and arm. It is connected to NeuroBall, a controller that tracks arm and hand movement, and gives feedback to stroke survivors on how they are doing. The new technology was also designed to be portable and comfortable and to look nice.
The research team at Brunel University London has extensive experience both in physiotherapy research, as well as working with patients as physiotherapists. The researchers bring experience in:
- Collecting and understanding the views of stroke survivors and healthcare professionals to find out what they need from new technologies that could improve physical rehabilitation in stroke.
- Looking at the difference new treatments for rehabilitation can make for stroke survivors.
- Looking at the cost-effectiveness of new treatments.
Neurofenix and the team of researchers at Brunel University have worked together before. Their previous research tested NeuroPlatform with stroke survivors living at home who were experiencing problems moving their arms and hands that had lasted a long time.
Their findings were used to improve the new technology and add early evidence showing that it could help encourage this group of stroke survivors to practice exercises at this point in their recovery journey.
Stroke survivors were also involved in designing this research project, for example, they provided important insight into how stroke survivors can be encouraged to take part in the study, and what challenges they may face in using the new technology in a stroke unit. This valuable information can increase the success of the study.