Thursday, 16 August 2007

Odd treadmill helps stroke survivors

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Treadmills can be hard enough to master if you've never been on one, but over at That's Fit, Brian recently wrote about a new split-belt treadmill that's being tested as a new tool to help stroke survivors walk normally again.

The treadmill has two separate belts, which can be adjusted separately. One belt can move the leg backward, while the other belt moves the opposite leg forward. Researchers say that if you try to think about it, you'll fall right off this treadmill, but if you let your brain take over, it can master it pretty quickly. In fact, when healthy people were put on the treadmill and "taught" to lurch, they couldn't walk normally for 10 minutes after stepping off the machine! When stroke victims are put on the machine, it improves their gait for a similar amount of time.

Now researchers are looking into how the machine may help retrain nerve pathways in the brain so that those who have suffered a stroke can enjoy those physical benefits for a longer period of time. It's exciting news for those who suffer physical disabilities due to stroke.

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