UT provides better insight into post-stroke movement quality

After a stroke, patients struggle with various physical impairments that do not always disappear after intensive training and rehabilitation therapy.

Doctors like to evaluate the quality of daily life movements of these patients on a day-to-day basis. A European research team headed by the University of Twente has developed a measurement system to aid doctors in this task.  The system consists of several types of sensors integrated in clothes and shoes, which can evaluate the movement of the arms and legs, for example. UT researcher Fokke van Meulen presented a number of new methods to evaluate quality of movement during the defence of his PhD dissertation. 

Stroke is the leading cause of serious and long-term disabilities in developed countries. Despite intensive care and rehabilitation programmes, people who recover completely or partially from a stroke can still experience deteriorating physical functioning in daily life during or immediately after their rehabilitation period. This decline may results in rehospitalization or institutionalization, a costly affair. 

Measurement systems

Objectively assessing progress or decline in physical functioning in daily life may prevent  rehospitalisation. This requires a measurement system that can measure and evaluate daily life body movements. However, many standardised measurement systems used to objectively evaluate physical activity are not suitable for home use, but can only be used in specialised motion laboratories.

INTERACTION measurement system

The INTERACTION measurement system was developed by a European research team led by the University of Twente. It consists of multiple types of sensors integrated in clothes and shoes, which is able to evaluate movements of the arms and legs. This system has been evaluated by the University of Zürich and Roessingh Research and Development for the assessment of everyday movements of patients recovering from a stroke. A significant challenge in measuring people’s everyday movements over a longer period of time is the amount and complexity of the data collected by the system, as this can make it difficult for healthcare providers to easily and quickly assess the progress or decline in movement quality.

Fokke van Meulen’s research objectives

Remedying this problem requires methods to automatically process, analyse and assess the collected movement data. The main objective of Van Meulen’s PhD research was to develop methods that can assess the quality of everyday movements of patients recovering from a stroke based on the information collected by the INTERACTION measurement system. In addition, Van Meulen presented methods that can be used by healthcare providers to automatically compile concise reports from the collected data, making them easier to assess. Van Meulen’s research project focused on people suffering from motion-related impairments caused by a stroke, but the results can also be used for rehabilitation programmes of other diseases.

Janneke van den Elshout
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