AMRF grant to help stroke victims

09 December 2015

Dr Andrew McDaid has been awarded a grant for the Auckland Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) for his robotic stroke gait rehab project.

Over 7,000 New Zealanders suffer from strokes each year. Rehabilitation and hospitalisation costs are amongst the highest for all injuries, resulting in an estimated annual cost of $450 million.

In order to regain control of movement, a stroke victim’s brain is required to reorganise its connections with the other parts of their body. This process requires neighbouring brain cells or a healthy part of the brain to ‘take over’ from a region previously damaged by the stroke. This reorganisation occurs in the early, or ‘acute’ stages of recovery.

The project’s long term aim is to demonstrate that clinical practices can be altered using a simple mechanical device to prevent instability in the aforementioned early recovery stage. Researchers will do so by constraining the leg of a stroke patient in a ‘normal’ trajectory. This will result in encouraging a more normal gait pattern, as opposed to the patient eventually learning an impaired one.

With a grant totalling $159,000 over two years, the project, led by Dr McDaid in collaboration with the Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, and Auckland City Hospital, will be soon be taken through a pilot study.