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Neuroscientist receives grant to advance use of KINARM

Article Date:  June 8, 2012

Queen's University News Centre

A Queen’s University neuroscientist has received federal funding to transition his robotic KINARM assessment system from a basic research tool to use in clinical practice.

“For the past 15 years, we’ve used advanced technologies, such as robotics, to make significant progress in our understanding of the brain,” says Stephen Scott. “Now it is time to start translating those advancements to the clinic.  It’s all about improving patient outcomes following a brain injury.’
KINARM combines a chair with robotic “arms” and a virtual/augmented reality system that enables neuroscience and rehabilitation researchers to guide their patient through a series of standardized tasks, such as hitting balls with virtual paddles. Once the tests are completed, the system instantly generates a detailed report, pinpointing variations from normal behaviour.
Knowing the full effects of a brain injury on a patient’s ability to function in daily life means more effective rehabilitation programs. It also means a better understanding of the potential impact of brain injuries, whether caused by accidents or by diseases including stroke, MS, Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy or fetal alcohol syndrome.
Queen’s University PARTEQ Innovations helped commercialize the technology.
Dr. Scott is working in partnership with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, where the KINARM will be used to measure the effectiveness of BOTOX®, a naturally occurring toxin widely used to treat muscle spasticity in stroke survivors. His KINARM at Queen’s, meanwhile will be testing 150 healthy adults from across all age groups to develop comparative statistical measures on normal brain function.
The project was granted $750,000 from the Fed Dev Technology Development Program and is one of 14 projects to receive funding. Additional support for the student is being provided by BKIN Technologies and Allergan Canada.
The project is part of a $10 million grant received by the Ontario Brain Institute received to advance development of neuro-devices including implants, prosthetics and diagnostics by a network of researchers at 13 institutions across Ontario.