Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Multisensory rehabilitation stratagems for stroke

Stroke is debilitating and patients require long-term hospitalisation and community care. Evidence-based standardised rehabilitation regimens for stroke patients are urgently needed to improve their prognosis.
Multisensory rehabilitation stratagems for stroke
Stroke patients suffering from unilateral neglect, a condition characterised by attention or awareness deficit on one side of space, have poor prognostic outcomes. To bring about functional recovery in stroke survivors, EU-funded scientists of the EARLY RECOVERIES (Early multisensory rehabilitation of cognitive and perceptual functions for stroke patients with unilateral neglect) project developed and optimised attentional enhancement procedures using the multisensory integration approach to remedy unilateral neglect. Multisensory integration refers to the ability to use sensory cues from multiple sources to improve perception and attention.

Unilateral neglect, also called hemispatial neglect, often affects the complex search ability and working memory in patients. So far, most studies have only tested the efficacy of multisensory signals in simple tasks. As audiovisual binding is ambiguous in complex search and working memory tasks, project researchers determined what stimulus parameters enhance attention in healthy elderly adults. They developed two multisensory paradigms for these core impairments: a perceptual search task and a spatial-memory task. These sophisticated psychophysical methods are adaptive to patient performance and were tested in a large cohort of participants with chronic stroke.

A breakthrough, the EARLY RECOVERIES team adapted their multisensory paradigms and incorporated them into portable devices such as iPads for early post-stroke rehabilitation. Testing helped establish normative learning levels for healthy elderly adults and stroke patients. Already, data collection is complete for all six preliminary studies and manuscripts for publication are under preparation.

The efficacy of multisensory stimulation was also tested on two clinical case studies: a patient with a neurodegenerative disorder affecting perceptual processes, and a stroke patient with expressive aphasia and deficits in reading and number processing.

Study outcomes highlight the significantly high benefits of training with multisensory stimulation for stroke patients with neglect as well as other clinical case studies. Training benefits in terms of learning, performance accuracy and speed were observed as early as one month post-stroke.

The EARLY RECOVERIES multisensory training approach is beneficial to patients with learning, perceptual and cognitive impairments as well as the ageing population. Clinical implementation should facilitate faster recovery for better functional independence and quality of life.

Related information

Subjects

Life Sciences

Keywords

Multisensory, rehabilitation, stroke, unilateral neglect, EARLY RECOVERIES
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