Murdoch Uni study using mobile phone app to retrain brains of stroke patients


Murdoch University neuroscientist Ann-Maree Vallence hopes a specially designed mobile phone app can help stroke patients recover brain functionality.
Murdoch University neuroscientist Ann-Maree Vallence hopes a specially designed mobile phone app can help stroke patients recover brain functionality.

AN easy-to-use mobile phone app could hold the key to retraining the brains of stroke patients.

Murdoch University neuroscientist Ann-Maree Vallence is part of a new study examining the effectiveness of GotRhythm, a mobile phone app which offers a simple, individually tailored rehabilitation program.

“Each year 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke and in one-third of cases the stroke results in permanent disability,” Dr Vallence said.

“Currently, most rehabilitation interventions are based on intensive training and physiotherapy, which is both complex and expensive.

“GotRhythm offers a simple and inexpensive alternative form of therapy that can be tailored to an individual’s needs – and it’s fun.”

The app uses mobile phones and wireless wearable sensors to provide motor training that rewards the accurate completion of tasks.

It also links to the patient’s music library, to allow individualised choice of music for therapy.

As the patient completes training with the app, comprehensive motor performance data is collected.

The data is used to provide feedback to the patient about their performance, as well as to test the effectiveness of the app to improve movement ability.

GotRhythm was developed at UWA by exercise and health scientist Associate Professor Michael Rosenberg and software engineer Alex Shaykevich.

Together with Dr Vallence, the research team now aim to determine the effectiveness of the app to improve brain function and recovery of movement in stroke patients.

“When you hear music, you naturally start to move,” Dr Vallence said.

“Studies have established that movement with music can activate several areas in the brain simultaneously. We’ve used this information to develop a therapy that will increase brain function.

“This study will enable us to start building a picture of what the app can do to aid in functional recovery after a brain injury.”

Dr Vallence aims to recruit 20 chronic stroke patients to test the effectiveness of the app.

To find out more about participating in this study, contact Dr Vallence on 9360 7464 or a.vallence@murdoch.edu.au.