UConn Students Use Vibrational Therapy in Experimental Cerebral Palsy Device

Biomedical engineering students at the University of Connecticut have developed an arm brace that uses vibrational therapy to address some of the physical challenges of cerebral palsy (CP).

University seniors Katherine Bradley, Morgan DaSilva, Brianna Perry and Brittany Morgan designed the brace “to treat and strengthen the muscles” in the arm of a client with CP.

In a news announcement, Perry said, “We all have a concentration in biomechanics, so our focus was to work on the joints, bones and muscles. One of the reasons we decided to work with cerebral palsy patients is because there are a lot of devices concerned with the whole body, but we wanted to do localized vibration treatment, which would allow patients to get better control of individual muscles.”

The brace was specially designed for people with spastic CP and targets four muscles in the arm and hand. The device would be worn for less than 20 minutes a day, three days per week, for several months in a row.

The brace targets those four muscles for vibrational stimuli, in the hopes of strengthening those muscles and giving the user more control when engaging in activities of daily living. The student team is aiming to mitigate some of the classic presentations of spastic CP, including involuntary movements and stiffness.

After receiving approval from the university’s Institutional Review Board that governs trials using human subjects, the team tested the device on a volunteer with CP this spring.

Morgan said of those results, “We have done extensive analysis using root mean square functions, and we have come up with inconsistent data, showing both positive and negative results for each muscle/action performed. We’re looking forward to the last week of testing and adjusting some parameters for analyzing the data, to see if we can get a more positive result. But we’re still really excited that we’ve been able to even sort through the data enough to see results, and it is a great stride in our design process.”

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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