One of the most common problem victims of strokes face is hemiparesis, a weakness on one side of the body, which can often lead to stroke survivors having poorer control of one arm.
It is this loss of function, and how the brain may compensate for it, that Rajiv Ranganathan is researching in connection with Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich.
Ranganathan, an assistant professor of Kinesiology, has been working with Sparrow and fellow researchers from MSU on a $50,000 study funded by the Center for Innovation and Research.
“The importance of this study is reflected in terms of the underlying problem,” Ranganathan said. “Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S., and we still don’t have good, effective ways to quantify or treat movement deficits in stroke survivors. By using recent advances in technology, we are hoping that this study can at least provide a stepping stone toward that goal.”
His research examines the feasibility of virtual reality systems to test how arm function is affected by strokes and measure motor function for the affected and non-affected sides of the body. The systems measure movements with high precision, which are then translated into a game-like interface.