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Therapy involving the use of personalised neurotechnology could enable better rehabilitation for severe chronic stroke patients, according to a paper published in the Brain journal by Switzerland-based researchers.

The authors included scientists from the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Clinique Romande de Réadaptation and the University of Geneva Faculty of Medicine.

The researchers suggest that personalised neurotechnology treatments such as brain-machine interfaces, robotics and brain stimulation could facilitate the largest therapy effects and success.

In the publication, the researchers highlight the need for longitudinal clinical studies to validate the rehabilitation effects of individual therapies and use of multiple complementary combination therapies over a long duration.

Wyss Center staff engineer and lead author Dr Martina Coscia said: “Our findings show that neurotechnology-aided upper limb rehabilitation is promising for severe chronic stroke patients. However, we also found that the ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t lead to the best outcome.

“We suggest a move towards a personalised combination of neurotechnology-based stroke rehabilitation therapies, ideally in a home-based environment where prolonged therapy is more feasible than in a clinic.

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“We believe that by sequentially introducing stroke therapies according to individual progress, we could allow patients to continue their recovery beyond what is possible today.”

Commonly, stroke leads to impaired upper arm function. Rehabilitation therapies are known to be majorly effective in the first three months following a stroke, after which the chances of further natural recovery are considered limited.

During the research, the scientists reviewed effectiveness data from 64 clinical studies of upper limb neurotechnology-based therapies in chronic stroke patients.

This included data on robotics, functional electrical stimulation of muscles, brain stimulation and brain-computer interfaces, along with their use in combination.

Based on the findings, the team believes that a synergistic approach could pave the way for new treatments.

The researchers are set to launch a clinical trial to evaluate personalised therapy, specifically intended to maximise therapy effects in individual patients.