We are always excited to see new research added to the field that further validates the effectiveness of Constant Therapy. Thank you to the many scientists working hard to bring more research to the field of neurorehabilitation that drives our evidence-based practice. This overview summarizes the latest research out of Drexel University, which tested how well two of Constant Therapy’s tasks lined up with expected brain activity.
Researchers in this study looked at how doing Constant Therapy exercises correlate to activity measured in the brain, and if doing more difficult Constant Therapy tasks corresponds to higher levels of brain activity, which would indicate patients can advance to harder tasks in real life. This is an important question because as patients continue to use Constant Therapy, the program advances tasks to become progressively more difficult. In this study, the authors wished to validate Constant Therapy’s therapy tasks for appropriate leveling, both from a standpoint of task performance and level of brain activity.
The participants in this study were volunteers between the age of 18 and 35 — 5 men and 5 women. The participants did not have a history of brain injury or any psychological disorders – the goal was to benchmark the difficulty level of tasks in Constant Therapy by using outside measures, specifically by measuring the amount of brain activity while doing different tasks.
Participants were asked to practice two tasks for an hour. During that time, they were assessed and recorded using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) sensors, which is a safe and wearable neuroimaging measurement system that measures changing brain activity (based on how much oxygenation the fNIRS system is picking up) while completing a task.
The researchers found that Constant Therapy’s Symbol Matching and Pattern Recreation tasks are appropriately leveled from a performance standpoint: participants scored statistically worse on harder levels, and better on easier levels. This same effect was seen for brain activity: there was significantly more change in cortical oxygenation (a measurement of brain activity) for harder levels compared to easier levels. These two tasks (and their corresponding varying levels of difficulty) are frequently used in Constant Therapy; the “Symbol Matching” task is used to assess a patient’s abilities in Attention and VisuoSpatial processing. “Pattern Recreation” is frequently used to measure a patient’s memory abilities. Both these tasks are applicable for patients with traumatic brain injury and cognitive impairment.
This research has important implications because it confirms a vital premise that the more the difficult a task, the harder your brain works (and in this case the more cortical blood oxygenation changes) and that translates into greater ability to perform higher functioning tasks in real life. Future work can then relate the amount of brain activation to improvements in Constant Therapy tasks (and other rehabilitation tasks) in patients with traumatic brain injury and/or cognitive impairment.
Authors: Mark, J., Onaral, B., & Ayaz, H. (2016), School of Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Health Systems, Drexel University, Philadelphia