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When someone suffers from a stroke, an insufficient amount of blood and oxygen reaching their brain causes tissue death and disturbs what’s called the corticospinal tract. This tract lends itself to an impressive level of human dexterity, but also to a range of devastating consequences when damaged.

This is why people who’ve suffered from a stroke often have low dexterity, loss of limb movement or control, and weakness. Similar symptoms can be seen with other neurological diseases and injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, cerebellar ataxia, and multiple sclerosis. The best way to recover from any of these conditions is by engaging early on in intense rehab, which includes lots of movement.

At the Brain, Learning, Animation, and Movement (BLAM) Lab at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Dr. John W. Krakauer is interested in better understanding the science of movement in health and disease, how people plan, control and learn movements after a neurological event, and how to engage people in the rehab process, which can be intense, arduous, and challenging for most to maintain.

However, Dr. Krakauer explains that in order to maximize the potential usefulness of the abilities that remain post-stroke, maintaining a consistently high level of rehabilitative movement is absolutely necessary. This is why he’s focusing his efforts on “gamifying” the process—designing interactive games that will not only engage people, but address their specific rehabilitative needs by integrating them into the characters within the games.

Dr. Krakauer joins the podcast to discuss a variety of topics, including different types of stroke, the process of recovering from stroke and other neurological events, feedback from the trials they’ve held, and their plans moving forward, which include building new technology, holding bigger trials with chronic and acute stroke patients, and considering the ways in which this technology could influence the future architecture of hospital rooms.

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