Head injuries - a new tool to measure rehabilitation
14 March 2000
Thousands of people suffering from spasticity as a result of head injury or stroke may soon benefit from a new clinical device thanks to leading medical charity, Action Research.
This news coincides with National Head Injuries Week from 13-19 March and National Science, Engineering and Technology Week from 17-26 March.
The prototype - an electrical instrument based on biomechanical principles - will allow spasticity (uncontrollable skeletal muscle contractions) to be measured more accurately than ever before.
The device, which is connected to the patient using a moulded splint, will tell medical specialists how much force is required to move the knee and elbow joints. This will result in more effective treatment and rehabilitation.
At present many doctors are using the Ashworth Scale which is based on a five point system which enables clinicians to make a subjective assessment of joint resistance to passive movement.
Action Research awarded a team of researchers led by Professor Garth Johnson at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Hunters Moor Rehabilitation Centre nearly £80,000 to develop this clinical device.
Professor Johnson said: "There is currently a shortage of reliable clinical tools with which to measure spasticity accurately. However, with the recent advent of new treatments, and the requirement of the “new’’ NHS to quantitate the effectiveness of rehabilitation, there is now a need for reliable clinical measurement."
He added: "Thousands of people who have suffered a stroke or head injury are affected by spasticity which is why the development of this new device is so important as it should give patients the opportunity to receive better and improved treatments."
The device, which is currently undergoing clinical trials, may become commercially available within two years from a UK based instrument manufacturer.