UTech, Jamaica research provide hope for stroke patients

Sunday, April 21, 2019

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RESEARCH by Professor Felix Akinladejo, recently appointed professor of Computer Information Systems in the Faculty of Engineering and Computing, University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica, on computer model and virtual reality technology for post- stroke rehabilitation, is offering hope for stroke patients.

Professor Akinladejo elaborated on his research focusing on the use of the Techno-Therapy Intervention technique to aid in the rehabilitation therapy of post-acute stroke patients to improve movement and/or functional ability, in his inaugural professorial lecture titled, “Computer Model and Virtual Reality Technology for Post-Stroke Rehabilitation: A Techno-Therapy Intervention Technique,” held on April 11 at the university's Papine campus, a release from the tertiary institution said.

The research follows from his PhD dissertation, which focused on computer-supported rehabilitation management of post-acute stroke patients.

The Techno-Therapy Rehabilitation System consists of the computer model used to measure the gait variables and the virtual reality technology used to provide the exercise that stroke patients perform for physical therapy.

According to the release, Professor Akinladejo pointed to World Health Organization (WHO) data, which showed that stroke deaths in Jamaica reached 2,474 or 14.44 per cent of total deaths in 2017.

Noting that the challenge, especially in developing countries like Jamaica, is the inability to provide and sustain physical rehabilitation therapy, he said that his research will augment present treatment options and knowledge for professionals concerned with rehabilitation management, and practitioners of physical therapy, bioengineering and all concerned with human movement.

He also shared examples of his work done with post-stroke patients to manage plantar flexion and dorsiflexion movements of the ankle and foot in order to approve their range of motion. Professor Akinladejo is also leading UTech, Jamaica's collaborative research with the University of Pennsylvania, USA to investigate rehabilitation after cardiovascular disease and stroke. The partnership has led to a programme that is currently providing third-year engineering students with training in the basic elements of robotics with a focus on rehabilitative robotics in the Jamaican context, the release said.

In the meantime, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton, who brought greetings, highlighted the importance of the professor's research in the context of the increase in non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, affecting large segments of the population and which may lead to stroke and the subsequent need for physical rehabilitation.

The health minister, the release said, urged more focus on the type of applied research being done by Professor Akinladejo to find solutions to Jamaica's health challenges.

“We can't confront these challenges by confining our efforts to the practitioners directly involved in public health,” the Minister said, adding that “the new approach to dealing with public health has to be a lot more holistic and collaborative.”

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