Studying Hand Function of Stroke Recovery Patients
Awarded trainee Alexandra Borstad hopes her study on stroke rehabilitation will lead to changes in the future of patient care. Borstad’s current project, supported by the TL1 Mentored Clinical Research Training Program, takes a closer look at the hand functions of patients following a stroke.
Stroke survivors sometimes lose feeling, a sense of touch and even the ability to use their hands (as a motor tool).
Borstad has been a physical therapist for 16 years, specializing in neurological physical therapy. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1993 and received her Master of Science degree in neurological rehabilitation from Ohio State in 2007. She is currently working on her Ph.D in Health and Rehabilitation Science and has also been a part-time lecturer at OSU for three years.
Borstad said she enjoyed the research aspect of physical therapy while working at the Sister Kenny Research Center in Minneapolis, MN and wanted to combine it with her interest of working with adults who have neurological problems. Her interactions with patients have given her a new outlook on life.
“What I’m always struck by is that they really are people who are making the most out of life,” Borstad said. “I consider [them] a blessing of human nature.”
Borstad and mentor Dr. Deborah Larsen will measure haptic perception in the hand by using the Hand Active Sensation Test (HASTe). Dr. Larsen’s lab developed HASTe, which provides quantitative clinical data about complex sensory loss and hand function after a stroke.
They will be relating sensory functions in the hand to changes in the brain at the Wright Center of Innovation in Biomedical Imaging. Functional magnetic resonance imaging will show blood flow in response to neural activity in the brain or spinal cord, allowing researchers to determine active areas in the brain during tests. Another technique, diffusion tensor imaging, will enable the mapping of neural tracts by measuring the restricted diffusion of water in white matter tissue.
The pilot study will be taking place this summer during two-week intervention surveys. Subjects will go through a pre-test, followed by two weeks of intervention every day and then given a post-test.
If effective, Borstad thinks her study could be used on a larger group of individuals and change the practice of hand sensory function rehabilitation.
“Eventually I hope it’ll have an impact on the care of patients after a stroke,” Borstad said.
Participants interested in the study can call Dr. Larsen at 614-292-5645 or e-mail DLarsen@amp.osu.edu. To be eligible participants must be between 21 and 80 years old, have had a single stroke more than six months ago resulting in loss of motion and sensation in the arm or hand, have the ability to pick up and release a small juice can, have minimal change in thinking ability or speech and have no other complicating conditions.
The CCTS-TL1 program is part of a comprehensive program at OSU to advance research education and training in multidisciplinary clinical and translational investigation targeted at the improvement of human health. The trainees will be expected to participate in seminars and other education programs sponsored by the CCTS. One of the fundamental goals of the CCTS is to foster interaction between students of different disciplines that will continue throughout their professional careers.
By Jeffy Mai, Thursday, April 23, 2009