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Med Biol Eng Comput. 2007 Sep;45(9):901-7. Epub 2007 Aug 9.

Interactive visuo-motor therapy system for stroke rehabilitation.

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Institute of Neuroinformatics, University/ETH Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, Zurich 8057, Switzerland.


We present a virtual reality (VR)-based motor neurorehabilitation system for stroke patients with upper limb paresis. It is based on two hypotheses: (1) observed actions correlated with self-generated or intended actions engage cortical motor observation, planning and execution areas ("mirror neurons"); (2) activation in damaged parts of motor cortex can be enhanced by viewing mirrored movements of non-paretic limbs. We postulate that our approach, applied during the acute post-stroke phase, facilitates motor re-learning and improves functional recovery. The patient controls a first-person view of virtual arms in tasks varying from simple (hitting objects) to complex (grasping and moving objects). The therapist adjusts weighting factors in the non-paretic limb to move the paretic virtual limb, thereby stimulating the mirror neuron system and optimizing patient motivation through graded task success. We present the system's neuroscientific background, technical details and preliminary results.

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