It’s not uncommon after stroke to have trouble knowing where your arms are in relation to the rest of your body. And, if you don’t know where your arms are, or how they are moving, you have trouble doing things like making a cup of tea, picking up the phone or opening a door.
As part of his Masters research at the University of Calgary, CPSR-funded trainee Matt Chilvers is studying robotics and brain stimulation to learn more about proprioception (the sense of position and movement of your limbs) in an effort to improve communication between the brain and the arms after stroke.
“If you’re trying to get people back into their home environment, it’s important for them to be able to determine where their upper limbs are,” he explains.
Chilvers moved to Calgary from England in Fall 2016 to study with neuroscientist and physiatrist Dr. Sean Dukelow, an expert in the use of robotics to assess stroke deficits and to rebuild connections in the brain.
Chilvers, who completed undergraduate studies at the University of Birmingham, said he was attracted to work with Dr. Dukelow “because the research is so unique.”
As part of his study, Chilvers will work with chronic stroke patients and use a combination of robotics techniques and brain stimulation to activate brain areas associated with sensory perception.
Chilvers says working with the robot at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine will enable him to get a sensitive and quantifiable measurement of patients’ post-stroke deficits.
For now, Chilvers is following his dream of a career focused on how the brain changes and repairs itself after injury. “CPSR funding has allowed me to start that journey.”