Because recovery of upper extremity (UE) functions to a practical level has been considered difficult in many patients with stroke, compensatory approaches have been emphasised. Recently, based on basic and clinical research indicating a greater potential for plastic changes in the brain, approaches directed toward functional restoration are becoming increasingly popular. Meta-analysis has indicated the effectiveness of constraint-induced movement therapy, electromyography biofeedback, electrostimulation, mental practice, and robot exercise to improve UE functions, but not hand functions. Therefore, we devised two new interventions to improve the paretic hand. One is hybrid assistive neuromuscular dynamic stimulation therapy, designed to facilitate daily use of the hemiparetic UE by combining electromyography (EMG)-triggered electrical stimulation with a wrist splint. We demonstrated improvement of motor function, spasticity, functional scores, and neurophysiologic parameters in chronic hemiparetic stroke. With a randomised controlled trial, we also demonstrated its effectiveness in subacute stroke. The other is brain-machine interface neurofeedback training, which provides real-time feedback based on analysis of volitionally decreased amplitudes of sensory motor rhythm during motor imagery involving extension of the affected fingers. This elicited new voluntary EMG activities, and improved finger functions and neurophysiological parameters. These interventions may offer powerful neurorehabilitative tools for improving hemiparetic UE function after stroke.
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