Professors Awarded $380,000 to Restore Arm Movement in Stroke Survivors

A team of Colorado State University researchers received more than $380,000 from the National Institutes of Health to examine methods that could improve the rehabilitation process for stroke survivors.

The project is a collaborative study between Matt Malcolm’s NeuroRehabilitation Research Laboratory and Michael Thaut’s Center for Biomedical Research in Music. Malcolm is a Department of Occupational Therapy professor. The department is in the College of Applied Human Sciences. Thaut is chair of the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance in the College of Liberal Arts.

The BRAINSTIM Project will use magnetic stimulation to excite an area of the brain that controls voluntary movement. For 10 days, transcranial magnetic stimulation will be delivered to the stroke-damaged brain hemisphere. Following treatment, the participants will undergo rigorous therapy to redevelop voluntary movement in their stroke-affected arm. This therapy, known at constraint-induced therapy, involves restraining the individual’s unaffected arm, which encourages them to use their stroke-affected limb.

The two-year, $380,604 research grant is a newly established award, which Malcolm and Thaut received in early summer. Dr. Gerald McIntosh at Poudre Valley Hospital and Bill Gavin, a research associate in Occupational Therapy, also are involved with the project’s research.

"This grant will allow us to study some

thing that we and others have wanted to know for years," Malcolm said. "Does changing the excitability of the stroke-damaged brain beneficially impact a stroke survivor’s ability to recover voluntary movement?"

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Although nearly 5 million people in this country survive from a stroke, it sill remains the leading cause of disability. Currently, the project is seeking volunteers to participate in the study.

For more information on the BRAINSTIM Project, visit the NeuroRehabilitation Research Laboratory Web site at