Implementing a virtual reality training intervention to rehabilitate hand function after spine surgery for degenerative cervical myelopathy
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Degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM) is the most common cause of non-traumatic spinal cord injury affecting older adults in the United States. The incidence of DCM is projected to rise concomitantly with the growing aging population in Wisconsin. DCM is characterized by spinal cord dysfunction and impaired hand dexterity, a common symptom contributing to disability and impaired quality of life.
Although spinal surgery improves symptoms in DCM, over 30% of people do not achieve a meaningful recovery of hand function and live with residual disability. Currently, there are limited options for targeted rehabilitation of hand dexterity in DCM. In this project, for the first time, researchers will implement a novel virtual reality-based intervention to train hand dexterity in people after surgery for DCM. They will also record brain activity before and after training to assess how changes in brain activity are associated with improved hand function after training.
This study targets an unmet clinical need for post-surgical hand rehabilitation. It is expected to enhance the recovery of hand dexterity in people with DCM. Since the virtual reality training paradigm could be adapted for in-home therapy, successfully completing this project will potentially expand access to hand therapy, improve health, and reduce disability for people with DCM in Wisconsin.
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