What is the role of visual-haptic intervention for motor system deficits?

Updated: Aug 20, 2019
  • Author: Morris Steffin, MD; Chief Editor: Jonathan P Miller, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

Evidence for neuroplasticity of the motor system suggests that visual-haptic assistance is beneficial in 2 respects. First, such interactive systems can provide assistance in performing tasks otherwise precluded by neurological deficits. These can range from force application to an impaired extremity to electrical stimulation of intact musculature or can involve outright robotic assistance. At present, the first of these alternatives is probably most practical from a resource standpoint. Second, the visual-haptic approach provides for the development of novel modes of physical therapy.

The extent to which repetition of motor tasks with external cueing can enhance performance beyond immediate assistance is unclear, but the evidence regarding neuroplastic enhancement of activity suggests that such approaches may be effective. With the development of practical visual-haptic systems, as has been outlined conceptually, [10, 9] significant advances in neurorehabilitation of motor deficits are likely to evolve from this intervention. A corollary to this approach is the potential application of videospace-force interfacing technique to the realm of functional electrical stimulation.

Such interfacing in effect entails a fusion of robotic principles with a bionic interaction between patient and machine. The visual-haptic systems described here are likely to provide a useful test-bed for the continuing dynamic development of both external (force application) and internal (functional electrical stimulation) methods of improving motor control in patients with neurological deficits.


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