This health video is about the new steps being taken in helping those recover from a stroke.
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This beat is part of a new therapy, called BATRAC, Bilateral Arm Training with Rhythmic Auditory Cuing. It's a mouthful, but stroke survivor Kitty Poole says this relatively low-tech device is giving her back some of what she's lost. Kitty Poole: First of all, I have a lot more strength in my right arm. I can lift it a lot higher, and I can move it around a lot more. I can open the refrigerator door, which I couldn't do before. Jennifer Matthews: Researchers at the VA Medical Center in Baltimore say up until now, stroke therapy focused mainly on the affected limb. But they've designed BATRAC to use the brain's natural tendencies to move both limbs together. Dr. Jill Whitall: We know there's a neuro-coupling between the brain when you move your hands together. So, if I asked you, for example, to draw a triangle with your right hand and a circle with your left hand, you could do those perfectly well. But try doing them together, and you'll wind up working together. So, we know this exists. We're trying to take advantage of that in our training. Jennifer Matthews: The theory seems to work for chronic strokes. MRI scans show changes in the brain after therapy, which means the brain is reorganizing pathways to get the stroke-impaired arm to move. Kitty is now part of a similar study looking at whether the same principles will work for lower limbs. Kitty Poole: I've kept getting a little bit better, and I'm not giving up yet. Jennifer Matthews: Researchers want to get more patients involved in the BATRAC training. They hope to do that when they find a manufacturer to build and market the machine. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.