Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Research to Help Stroke Patients

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just recently awarded the first round of grants through the “Health Games Research” national program. More than $2 million in grants will help research teams support the use of digital interactive games to improve player’s health behaviors and outcomes. One funded research project was awarded to the University of South Carolina Research Foundation to explore how motion-based games may be able to help stroke patients progress faster in physical therapy.

A total of 112 research proposals were submitted by universities, medical centers, and industry in the U.S. In January 2009, Health Games Research located at the University of California in Santa Barbara will issue their next call for proposals expecting to award an additional $2 million in grants.

The University Of Maryland School Of Medicine has received NIH funding to do research to further develop a new in-home stroke rehabilitation device called “Tailwind”. The device works by activating new brain pathways that can improve arm function in stoke patients. In addition, through a licensing partnership with the university, the funding will enable Encore Path, a Baltimore-based medical device company, to market the patented invention in a compact, retractable and portable design.

“What I truly find exciting is that we have a tremendous partnering opportunity with the university to invent, develop, and research, practical and cost-effective rehabilitation technologies to advance the recovery of stroke survivors,” said Encore Path CEO Kristen Appel.

The funding will also enable Encore Path to create additional software to allow therapists to be able to measure their patient’s progress. So far, the device has been tested only in patients for 6 to 8 months after their first stroke but the funding will now be used to test the upgraded device in the sub-acute hospital setting on patients who recently have had a stroke.