3Qs: Taking a new approach to stroke rehabilitation

Pru­dence Plummer-D’Amato, an assis­tant pro­fessor of phys­ical therapy at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, was recently awarded a grant from the Amer­ican Heart Asso­ci­a­tion to develop a new approach for teaching stroke vic­tims how to walk. The four-​​year project will require patients to com­plete chal­lenging mental tasks while under­going phys­ical therapy. She will con­duct the research at the New Eng­land Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Hos­pital in Woburn, Mass., with North­eastern Pro­fessor of Biology Dagmar Sternad, a neu­ro­science researcher with appoint­ments in elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering and physics.

What is the major problem being addressed in this study?

Our research focuses on determining the best rehabilitation activities for stroke victims in order to maximize their ability to walk again. After a stroke, shifting attention to having a conversation or reading street signs while walking can be difficult, which may limit a person’s capability to participate in social activities outside of the home.

What specific questions are you asking and how will you attempt to answer them?

We will compare two types of walking rehabilitation programs. One is a traditional physical therapy program and the other is an intervention program that includes walking and completing other tasks at the same time, such as counting or responding to words. The goal is to find out which one improves walking under attention-demanding conditions. We will also determine whether the amount of walking people do in their daily lives changes as a result of the treatment.

Beyond treating individual stroke victims, what are the overall goals of your study? Where does it fit into the larger scope of rehabilitation?

Our goal is to identify and develop optimal rehabilitation treatments that will improve functional mobility and quality of life in community-dwelling individuals who suffer a stroke. Through this research, we will achieve greater understanding of how rehabilitation impacts recovery of real-world walking, thereby allowing therapists to develop better intervention strategies that will minimize a stroke victim’s disability.

1 comment

  1. my father suf­fered from stroke last year..he walks but the right side of his body in in slanting position.what should i do to bal­ance his body?thank you..

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