[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stopping during walking, a dynamic motor task frequent in everyday life, is very challenging for ataxic patients, as it reduces their gait stability and increases the incidence of falls. This study was conducted to analyse the biomechanical characteristics of upper and lower body segments during abrupt stopping in ataxic patients in order to identify possible strategies used to counteract the instability in the sagittal and frontal plane. Twelve patients with primary degenerative cerebellar ataxia and 12 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects were studied. Time-distance parameters, dynamic stability of the centre of mass, upper body measures and lower joint kinematic and kinetic parameters were analysed. The results indicate that ataxic patients have a great difficulty in stopping abruptly during walking and adopt a multi-step stopping strategy, occasionally with feet parallel, to compensate for their inability to coordinate the upper body and to generate a well-coordinated lower limb joint flexor-extensor pattern and appropriate braking forces for progressively decelerating the progression of the body in the sagittal plane. A specific rehabilitation treatment designed to improve the ability of ataxic patients to transform unplanned stopping into planned stopping, to coordinate upper body and to execute an effective flexion-extension pattern of the hip and knee joints may be useful in these patients in order to improve their stopping performance and prevent falls.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background. Haptic robots allow the exploitation of known motor learning mechanisms, representing a valuable option for motor treatment after stroke. The aim of this feasibility multicentre study was to test the clinical efficacy of a haptic prototype, for the recovery of hand function after stroke. Methods. A prospective pilot clinical trial was planned on 15 consecutive patients enrolled in 3 rehabilitation centre in Italy. All the framework features of the haptic robot (e.g., control loop, external communication, and graphic rendering for virtual reality) were implemented into a real-time MATLAB/Simulink environment, controlling a five-bar linkage able to provide forces up to 20 [N] at the end effector, used for finger and hand rehabilitation therapies. Clinical (i.e., Fugl-Meyer upper extremity scale; nine hold pegboard test) and kinematics (i.e., time; velocity; jerk metric; normalized jerk of standard movements) outcomes were assessed before and after treatment to detect changes in patients' motor performance. Reorganization of cortical activation was detected in one patient by fMRI. Results and Conclusions. All patients showed significant improvements in both clinical and kinematic outcomes. Additionally, fMRI results suggest that the proposed approach may promote a better cortical activation in the brain.
Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine 01/2013; 2013:895492. · 0.79 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to evaluate the concept of a wearable device and, specifically: 1) to design and implement analysis procedures to extract clinically relevant information from data recorded using the wearable system; 2) to evaluate the design and placement of the strain sensors. METHODS: Different kinds of trunk movements performed by a healthy subject were acquired as a comprehensive data set of 639 multivariate time series and off-line analyzed. The space of multivariate signals recorded by the strain sensors was reduced by means of Principal Components Analysis, and compared with the univariate angles contemporaneously measured by an inertial sensor. RESULTS: Very high correlation between the two kinds of signals showed the usefulness of the garment for the quantification of the movements' range of motion that caused at least one strain sensor to lengthen or shorten accordingly. The repeatability of signals was also studied. The layout of a next garment prototype was designed, with additional strain sensors placed across the front and hips, able to monitor a wider set of trunk motor tasks. CONCLUSIONS: The proposed technologies and methods would offer a low-cost and unobtrusive approach to trunk motor rehabilitation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Neuro-oncological population well expresses the complexity of neurological disability due to the multiple neurological deficits that affect these patients. Moreover, due to the therapeutical opportunities survival times for patients with brain tumor have increased and more of these patients require rehabilitation care. The figure of nurse in the interdisciplinary specialty of neurorehabilitation is not clearly defined, even if their role in this setting is recognized as being critical and is expanding.The purpose of the study is to identify the standard competencies for neurorehabilitation nurses that could be taught by means of a specialization course. METHODS: A literature review was conducted with preference given to works published between January 2000 and December 2008 in English. The search strategy identified 523 non-duplicated references of which 271 titles were considered relevant. After reviewing the abstracts, 147 papers were selected and made available to a group of healthcare professionals who were requested to classify them in few conceptual main areas defining the relative topics. RESULTS: The following five main areas were identified: clinical aspects of nursing; nursing techniques; nursing methodology; relational and organisational models; legal aspects of nursing. The relative topics were included within each area. As educational method a structured course based on lectures and practical sessions was designed. Also multi-choices questionnaires were developed in order to evaluate the participants' level of knowledge, while a semi-structured interview was prepared to investigate students' satisfaction. CONCLUSIONS: Literature shows that the development of rehabilitation depends on the improvement of scientific and practical knowledge of health care professionals. This structured training course could be incorporated into undergraduate nursing education programmes and also be inserted into continuing education programmes for graduate nurses. Developing expertise in neuro-rehabilitation for nurses, will be critical to improve overall care and care management of patients with highly complex disabilities as patients affected by brain tumors. The next step will be to start discussing, at the level of scientific societies linked to the field of neurorehabilitation and oncology, the development of a specialisation course in neurorehabilitation nursing.
Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 10/2012; 31(1):82. · 3.27 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective.- In this study, we evaluated the influence of sex and estrogen treatment on nitroglycerin (NTG)-induced neuronal activation in the rat brain. Background.- Systemic NTG activates cerebral nuclei of rat involved in nociceptive transmission, as well as in neuroendocrine and autonomic functions. These changes are considered relevant for migraine, since NTG consistently induces spontaneous-like attacks in migraineurs. Methods.- Intact and castrated male and female rats, and castrated female rats treated with estradiol benzoate (or placebo) were injected with NTG and sacrificed after 4 hours. Rats were perfused, and their brains were processed for Fos protein, a marker of neuronal activation. Results.- Data showed a reduced expression of NTG-induced Fos protein in the paraventricular nucleus (PVH), supraoptic nucleus (SON), and nucleus trigeminalis caudalis (SPVC) of male rats in comparison with female rats. Furthermore, in castrated female rats, NTG-induced neuronal activation was reduced in PVH, SON, central nucleus of the amygdala (AMI), nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), area postrema (AP), and SPVC, while in castrated male rats Fos expression was reduced uniquely in the SPVC. Chronic administration of estrogens restored Fos protein expression in PVH, SON, AMI, NTS, AP, and SPVC in castrated female rats. Conclusion.- These data provide a support for the existence of a sexual dimorphism in NTG-induced neuronal activation, and they prompt a specific model for evaluating and modulating the influence of estrogens upon the cerebral structures implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine.
Headache The Journal of Head and Face Pain 08/2012; · 2.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aims of this study were to develop a kinematic model of the spine, seen as a continuous deformable body and to identify the smallest set of surface markers allowing adequate measurements of spine motion. The spine is widely considered as a rigid body or as a kinematic chain made up of a smaller number of segments, thereby introducing an approximation. It would be useful to have at our disposal a technique ensuring accurate and repeatable measurement of the shape of the whole spine. Ten healthy subjects underwent a whole-spine radiographic assessment and, simultaneously, an optoelectronic recording. Polynomial interpolations of the vertebral centroids, of the whole set of markers were performed. The similarity of the resulting curves was assessed. Our findings indicate that spine shape can be reproduced by 5th order polynomial interpolation. The best approximating curves are obtained from either 10- or 9-marker sets. Sagittal angles are systematically underestimated.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Turning while walking is a common but demanding task requiring modification of the motor program from linear walking to lateral turning and it is associated with a high risk of falls. Patients with cerebellar ataxia have unstable gait and report a high incidence of falls. In the present study, we investigated the motor strategies adopted by ataxic patients when performing turns of different degrees and directions of rotation. Ten ataxic patients and 10 controls were analyzed while performing 30°/90° turns to the right/left. We recorded the number of completed turn tasks, the number of steps needed, and the time taken to complete the task, time-distance parameters and the onset of head, trunk and pelvis reorientation. The ataxic patients were less able to complete 90° turns, displayed a greater stride width, shorter step length, and greater number of steps when turning, and were unable to flexibly adjust their stride width across the turning task. The duration of the turning task and of the segmental reorientation did not differ from control values. Our findings indicate that ataxic patients have more difficulties in performing large turns and adopt a series of compensatory strategy aimed at reducing the instability associated with turning, such as enlarge the base of support, shorten the step length, increase the number of steps, and use the "multi-step" rather than the "spin-turn" strategy. Given the high risk of falls related to this task, it would be useful to include turning training in the rehabilitation protocol of ataxic patients.
Experimental Brain Research 07/2012; 222(1-2):65-75. · 2.17 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Modulation of nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR) excitability was evaluated during gait initiation in 10 healthy subjects to investigate how load- and movement-related joint inputs activate lower spinal centres in the transition from quiet stance to walking. A motion analysis system integrated with a surface EMG device was used to acquire kinematic, kinetic and EMG variables. Starting from a quiet stance, subjects were asked to walk forward, at their natural speed. The sural nerve was stimulated and EMG responses were recorded from major hip, knee and ankle muscles. Gait initiation was divided into four subphases based on centre of pressure and centre of mass behaviours, while joint displacements were used to categorise joint motion as flexion or extension. The reflex parameters were measured and compared between subphases and in relation to the joint kinematics.
The NWR was found to be subphase-dependent. NWR excitability was increased in the hip and knee flexor muscles of the starting leg, just prior to the occurrence of any movement, and in the knee flexor muscles of the same leg as soon as it was unloaded. The NWR was hip joint kinematics-dependent in a crossed manner. The excitability of the reflex was enhanced in the extensor muscles of the standing leg during the hip flexion of the starting leg, and in the hip flexors of the standing leg during the hip extension of the starting leg. No notable reflex modulation was observed in the ankle muscles.
Our findings show that the NWR is modulated during the gait initiation phase. Leg unloading and hip joint motion are the main sources of the observed modulation and work in concert to prepare and assist the starting leg in the first step while supporting the contralateral leg, thereby possibly predisposing the lower limbs to the cyclical pattern of walking.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives.- We investigated (1) a possible relationship between the functional activity of the endocannabinoid system and the facilitation of pain processing in migraineurs with medication-overuse headache, and (2) the effect of withdrawal treatment on both. Background.- The endocannabinoid system antinociception effect includes prevention of nociceptive pathways sensitization. The sensitization of the pain pathways has been demonstrated to be pivotal in the development and maintenance of chronic form of migraine, including medication-overuse headache. Methods.- We used the temporal summation threshold of the nociceptive withdrawal reflex to explore the spinal cord pain processing, and the platelet activity of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase to detect the functional state of the endocannabinoid system in 27 medication-overuse headache subjects before and 10 and 60 days after a standard withdrawal treatment and compared results with those of 14 controls. Results.- A significantly reduced temporal summation threshold and increased related pain sensation was found in subjects before withdrawal treatment when compared with controls. A significant fatty acid amide hydrolase activity reduction coupled with a significant improvement (reduction) in facilitation of spinal cord pain processing (increase in temporal summation threshold and reduction in related pain sensation) was found in medication-overuse headache subjects at both 10 and 60 days after withdrawal treatment when compared with medication-overuse headache subjects before withdrawal treatment. Conclusions.- We demonstrated a marked facilitation in spinal cord pain processing in medication-overuse headache before withdrawal treatment when compared with controls. Furthermore, the acute reduction of the fatty acid amide hydrolase activity coupled with a reduction of the facilitation in pain processing immediately (10 days) after withdrawal treatment and its persistence 60 days after withdrawal treatment could represent the consequence of a mechanism devoted to acutely reduce the degradation of endocannabinoids and aimed to increase the activity of the endocannabinoid system that results in an antinociceptive effect.
Headache The Journal of Head and Face Pain 06/2012; 52(9):1350-1361. · 2.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The first edition of the Italian diagnostic and therapeutic guidelines for primary headaches in adults was published in J Headache Pain 2(Suppl. 1):105-190 (2001). Ten years later, the guideline committee of the Italian Society for the Study of Headaches (SISC) decided it was time to update therapeutic guidelines. A literature search was carried out on Medline database, and all articles on primary headache treatments in English, German, French and Italian published from February 2001 to December 2011 were taken into account. Only randomized controlled trials (RCT) and meta-analyses were analysed for each drug. If RCT were lacking, open studies and case series were also examined. According to the previous edition, four levels of recommendation were defined on the basis of levels of evidence, scientific strength of evidence and clinical effectiveness. Recommendations for symptomatic and prophylactic treatment of migraine and cluster headache were therefore revised with respect to previous 2001 guidelines and a section was dedicated to non-pharmacological treatment. This article reports a summary of the revised version published in extenso in an Italian version.
The Journal of Headache and Pain 05/2012; 13 Suppl 2:S31-70. · 3.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background / Purpose:
Computerization of cognitive rehabilitation therapy is aimed at making it easier and quicker for the user (the therapist as well as the patient) to generate and execute exercises and treatment plans.
Our system automatically generates personalized exercises and treatment plans based on a wide range of stimuli, and monitors the patient’s vitals during the rehabilitation session. This makes it possible to cope with boredom and fatigue, as well as prevent stress events which could reduce the patient’s compliance.
Up Close and Personalized, International Congress on Personalized Medicine 2012; 03/2012
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our study is aimed to evaluate the spinal cord pain processing in Huntington's disease (HD) by testing both the temporal summation threshold (TST) of the nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR) and the functional activity of the diffuse noxious inhibitory control (DNIC) as form of supraspinal control of pain.
We enrolled 19 HD patients and 17 healthy controls. We measured threshold (Th), Area, TST and related psychophysical pain sensations of the NWR, at baseline and during and after activation of the DNIC by means of cold pressor test (CPT) as heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation.
In HD patients we found a significantly higher Th and TST as well as a lower Area when compared to controls. During the CPT, a significant inhibition of reflex and psychophysical pain responses were found in both HD patients and controls when compared to baseline, without differences between the groups in CPT results.
Our study demonstrated an abnormal spinal cord pain processing in HD patients. Abnormalities in pain processing are not apparently linked to a dysfunctional DNIC inhibitory projection system in HD patients.
Our findings support the hypothesis that the striatum could play a role in pain modulation and that its atrophy could affect pain processing without change the DNIC efficiency.
Clinical neurophysiology: official journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology 02/2012; 123(8):1624-30. · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abnormal postures of the trunk are a typical feature of Parkinson's disease (PD). These include Pisa syndrome (PS), a tonic lateral flexion of the trunk associated with slight rotation along the sagittal plane. In this study we describe clinical, electromyographic (EMG), and radiological features of PS in a group of 20 PD patients. All patients with trunk deviation underwent EMG and radiological (RX and CT scan) investigation. Clinical characteristics of patients with PS were compared with a control group of PD patients without trunk deviation. PD patients with PS showed a significantly higher score of disease asymmetry compared with the control group. In the majority of patients with PS, trunk bending was contralateral to the side of symptom onset. EMG showed abnormal tonic hyperactivity on the side of the deviation in the paravertebral thoracic muscles and in the abdominal oblique muscles. CT of the lumbar paraspinal muscles showed muscular atrophy more marked on the side of the deviation, with a craniocaudal gradient. PS may represent a complication of advanced PD in a subgroup of patients who show more marked asymmetry of disease and who have detectable hyperactivity of the dorsal paravertebral muscles on the less affected side. This postural abnormality deserves attention and proper early treatment to prevent comorbidities and pain.
Movement Disorders 02/2012; 27(2):227-35. · 5.63 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study set out to characterise the pattern of planned gait termination in a sample of patients with cerebellar diseases. The gait termination phase was recorded, using a motion analysis system, in ten patients with primary degenerative cerebellar disease and in ten controls. The subjects were instructed to walk at different gait speeds and to stop in response to an acoustic signal. Time-distance parameters (step length, step width, double support duration, time-to-slow, stopping time, centre of mass velocity and number of steps) and stability index-related parameters (distance between the "extrapolated centre of mass" (XCoM) and centre of pressure (CoP)) were measured at both matched and self-selected gait speeds. At matched speed the patients, compared with the controls, showed a reduced step length, a greater first and second step width and used more steps to stop. At self-selected speed, almost all the parameters differed from those of the controls. Furthermore, the patients showed an increased stability index, suggesting that they need to maintain a "safety margin" between the XCoM and CoP during the gait termination. Patients develop a series of compensatory strategies in order to preserve balance during planned gait termination, e.g. increasing their step width and number of steps. Ataxic patients need to maintain a safety margin in order to avoid instability when stopping. Given the potential risk of falls when stopping, walking ataxic patients may benefit from a rehabilitation treatment focused on preserving and improving their ability to terminate gait safely.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clinical experience suggests that application of the fundamental principles of rehabilitation medicine can improve the care of patients with cancer. Despite the high incidence of neurological and functional deficits in patients affected by brain tumours (BTs), rehabilitation treatment of this population is not as well established as it is for patients with other neurological conditions. To assess functional outcome in brain tumour inpatients who underwent early rehabilitation after surgery. 75 patients who had undergone neurosurgery for primary BTs and 75 patients affected by stroke were enrolled in a case-control study. All patients were evaluated by means of a core set of clinical scales (Functional Independence Measure, Sitting Balance score, Standing Balance score, Hauser Index, Massachusetts General Hospital Functional Ambulation Classification). Patients were evaluated before the beginning (T0) and at the end (T1) of rehabilitation treatment. The neurorehabilitation programme consisted of individual 60-min sessions of treatment, administered once a day, six days a week, for four consecutive weeks. Speech therapy was included when aphasia was diagnosed. All the measures of outcome were indicative of substantial improvements for neuro-oncological and for stroke patients (P = 0.000). Analysis of subgroups showed that patients affected by meningioma achieved better results (in efficiency terms) as regards independence in activities of daily living (P = 0.02) and mobility (P = 0.04) compared with patients affected by glioblastoma or stroke. Rehabilitation after surgery can improve functional outcome, justifying the delivery of rehabilitation services, even during the acute phase, to BTs inpatients, irrespective of tumour type.
Journal of Neuro-Oncology 11/2011; 107(3):537-44. · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aims: We tested the usability and usefulness of the basic diagnostic headache diary (BDHD) for the diagnosis of migraine, tension-type headache and medication-overuse headache in European and Latin American countries.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To investigate the behavior of the nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR) in the upper limb during reaching and grasping movements in post-stroke hemiparetic patients.
Eight patients with chronic stroke and moderate motor deficits were included. An optoelectronic motion analysis system integrated with a surface EMG machine was used to record the kinematic and EMG data. The NWR was evoked through a painful electrical stimulation of the index finger during a movement which consisted of reaching out, picking up a cylinder, and returning it to the starting position.
We found that: (i) the NWR is extensively rearranged in hemiparetic patients, who were found to present different kinematic and EMG reflex patterns with respect to controls; (ii) patients partially lose the ability to modulate the reflex in the different movement phases; (iii) the impairment of the reflex modulation occurs at single-muscle, single-joint and multi-joint level.
Patients with chronic and mild-moderate post-stroke motor deficits lose the ability to modulate the NWR dynamically according to the movement variables at individual as well as at multi-muscle and joint levels.
The central nervous system is unable to use the NWR substrate dynamically and flexibly in order to select the muscle synergies needed to govern the spatio-temporal interaction among joints.
Clinical neurophysiology: official journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology 08/2011; 123(3):527-40. · 3.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our aim was to perform a comprehensive analysis of the global and segmental features of gait in patients with genetically confirmed inherited ataxias. Sixteen patients with autosomal dominant (spinocerebellar ataxia, SCA1 or 2) or recessive (Friedreich's ataxia, FRDA) ataxia were studied. We used a motion analysis system to record gait kinematic and kinetic data. We measured the mean values of global (time-distance parameters, COM displacement, support moment) and segmental gait parameters (joint displacement and inter-joint coordination), as both discrete and continuous variables, and their variability and correlations with International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS) scores. We found a marked difference in all global gait parameters between the ataxic patients and the controls and close correlations between longer stride and stance duration and lower gait, posture and total ICARS scores. The only difference between the two patient groups was a shorter step length in the FRDA patients. As regards the segmental features, we found a significantly different waveform shape for all continuous kinematic and kinetic measures between the ataxic patients and the healthy controls, but only minor differences for the discrete measures. Intersegmental coordination evaluated using the continuous relative phase method revealed an irregular alternating joint behaviour without clear evidence of the synchronous pattern of alternating proximal/distal joint seen in healthy subjects. For almost all gait parameters we observed a markedly higher intra-subject variability in the ataxic patients versus the controls, which was strongly related to the clinical ICARS scores. Patients with chronic, progressive inherited ataxias lose the ability to "stabilize" a walking pattern that can be repeated over time. The most peculiar aspect of the gait of inherited ataxia patients, regardless the different genetic forms, seems to be the presence of increased variability of all global and segmental parameters rather than an invariant abnormal gait pattern.
The Cerebellum 06/2011; 11(1):194-211. · 2.60 Impact Factor