An ongoing program of structured arm/hand rehabilitation is an integral part of continued recovery post stroke. Early treatment is under the watchful eye of your physiotherapist. But, as you continue into the chronic phase of stroke, you will likely take more responsibility for your activities. While this can be empowering, it can also be daunting. Without the feedback on exactly what your muscles are doing (known as ‘biofeedback’), it can be difficult. How can you be sure that all that grasping and lifting is taking you closer to your goal of recovery?
Force myography (FMR)
With this in mind, researchers at the University of Pisa in Italy have been investigating the use of force myography (FMG) as a biofeedback system in post-stroke arm/hand rehabilitation. FMG is a relatively new system. It uses sensors to measure pressure at the surface of the muscle. The idea being that more pressure means more muscle flexing and activity. FMG isn’t the first system to work in this way (the underlying principle is similar to that of surface electromyography [sEMG]), but it might be the first that is simple (and affordable) enough to use in the comfort of your own home.
The researchers tested the system in eight patients with chronic stroke and mild-to-moderate arm impairment. They used sensors embedded in a band worn on the forearm to measure muscle activity (‘grasp’). The seated participant completed a series of repetitive tasks that involved reaching, grasping, and moving objects placed on a table.
Overall, the results were promising. The system was able to accurately detect ‘grasp’ more than 90% of the time in patients with chronic stroke. While further studies are required to validate these findings (this was a small study), the results do suggest a potential use for FMG in post-stroke rehabilitation of mild-to-moderate arm and hand impairments.
The lead author of this publication is Dr. Sadarangani from the MENRVA Research Group, School of Engineering Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.
Innovative technologies, like wearable sensors, make it possible to improve your training at home and speed up your rehabilitation process. We think that this technique (FMG) is a viable option to assist in muscle training at home.