Background: Hybrid assistive neuromuscular dynamic stimulation (HANDS) therapy improved paretic upper extremity motor function in patients with severe to moderate hemiparesis. We hypothesized that brain machine interface (BMI) training would be able to increase paretic finger muscle activity enough to apply HANDS therapy in patients with severe hemiparesis, whose finger extensor was absent. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of BMI training followed by HANDS therapy in patients with severe hemiparesis. Methods: Twenty-nine patients with chronic stroke who could not extend their paretic fingers were participated this study. We applied BMI training for 10 days at 40min per day. The BMI detected the patients' motor imagery of paretic finger extension with event-related desynchronization (ERD) over the affected primary sensorimotor cortex, recorded with electroencephalography. Patients wore a motor-driven orthosis, which extended their paretic fingers and was triggered with ERD. When muscle activity in their paretic fingers was detected with surface electrodes after 10 days of BMI training, we applied HANDS therapy for the following 3 weeks. In HANDS therapy, participants received closed-loop, electromyogram-controlled, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) combined with a wrist-hand splint for 3 weeks at 8 hours a day. Before BMI training, after BMI training, after HANDS therapy and 3month after HANDS therapy, we assessed Fugl-Meyer Assessment upper extremity motor score (FMA) and the Motor Activity Log14-Amount of Use (MAL-AOU) score. Results: After 10 days of BMI training, finger extensor activity had appeared in 21 patients. Eighteen of 21 patients then participated in 3 weeks of HANDS therapy. We found a statistically significant improvement in the FMA and the MAL-AOU scores after the BMI training, and further improvement was seen after the HANDS therapy. Conclusion: Combining BMI training with HANDS therapy could be an effective therapeutic strategy for severe UE paralysis after stroke.
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