Monday, January 18, 2021

Undergrads Spend Summer Assessing Technologies To Help Children With Cerebral Palsy

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Perinatal strokes occur when the blood flow to an area of the brain is blocked or interrupted during the fetal or newborn period. When this happens, brain cells begin to die and brain damage can occur. A common complication that can arise from a perinatal stroke is hemiparetic cerebral palsy where children suffer varied degrees of weakness or lack of control on one side of the body. These children often neglect to use their affected side regardless of its skill or capability in everyday living. As technology advances concomitantly with our understanding of the human brain, new therapeutic interventions aimed at helping to improve the skill and capacity in the affected limb are created and developed. This improvement will lead to a better quality of life for those suffering from hemiparetic cerebral palsy.

Measuring bilateral arm movements with the use of the actigraphy allows Hollis to see how or if a patient uses the affected side, and to ultimately find out if actigraphy technology can measure real-time bilateral arm movements compared to the standard clinical assessment data.

When asked why she choose this project, Hollis said: “I have always been fascinated by the brain, but after taking physiology and neuropsychology classes this year, I found my interest really growing. I have also always loved working with and interacting with children. This project gives me an opportunity to combine those two passions while being able to think creatively and critically, and to carry out a project that could make a real difference

Exploring the potential of brain-computer interfaces

Jack Zhang, a fourth-year neuroscience student, is hoping to identify the ability of healthy children and children with quadriplegic cerebral palsy to learn to use brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to execute simple computer, gaming and motorized tasks. BCIs are a powerful communication tool that build a communication bridge between the users’ brain and the external environment. One of the ultimate goals of BCIs is to provide users, who may be paralyzed or have a disability, with basic communication capabilities that allows them to express their wishes and needs. A user’s thoughts (brain waves) are translated in real-time into commands that operate a computer system to complete the desired tas

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