Tue | May 21, 2019

UTech research provides hope for stroke patients

Published:Thursday | April 18, 2019 | 12:35 AM

Research by Professor Felix Akinladejo, recently appointed professor of computer information systems in the Faculty of Engineering and Computing, University of Technology, Jamaica, on computer model and virtual reality technology for post-stroke rehabilitation, is offering hope for stroke patients.

Akinladejo elaborated on his research focusing on the use of the techno-therapy intervention technique to aid in the rehabilitation therapy of post-acute stroke patients to improve movement and/or functional ability in his inaugural professorial lecture titled ‘Computer Model and Virtual Reality Technology for Post -Stroke Rehabilitation: A Techno-Therapy Intervention Technique’, held recently at the university’s Papine campus.

The research follows from Akinladejo’s PhD dissertation, which focused on computer-supported rehabilitation management of post-acute stroke patients.

The techno-therapy rehabilitation system consists of the computer model used to measure the gait variables and the virtual reality technology used to provide the exercise that stroke patients perform for physical therapy.

Akinladejo pointed to World Health Organization data, which showed that stroke deaths in Jamaica reached 2,474 or 14.44 per cent of total deaths in 2017.

Noting that the challenge, especially in developing countries like Jamaica, is the inability to provide and sustain physical rehabilitation therapy, Akinladejo said that his research would augment present treatment options and knowledge for professionals concerned with rehabilitation management, practitioners of physical therapy, bioengineering, and all concerned with human movement. He shared examples of his work done with post-stroke patients to manage plantar flexion and dorsiflexion movements of the ankle and foot in order to approve their range of motion.

Akinladejo is also leading UTech, Jamaica’s collaborative research with the University of Pennsylvania, USA, to investigate rehabilitation after CVDs and stroke.

The partnership has led to a programme that is currently providing third-year engineering students with training in the basic elements of robotics, with a focus on rehabilitative robotics in the Jamaican context.

NCD’s on the rise

Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health, who brought greetings, highlighted the importance of Akinladejo’s research in the context of the increase in non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension affecting large segments of the population and which may lead to stroke and the subsequent need for physical rehabilitation. The health minister urged more focus on the type of applied research being done by Akinladejo to find solutions to Jamaica’s health challenges.

“We can’t confront these challenges by confining our efforts to the practitioners directly involved in public health” the minister said, adding that “the new approach to dealing with public health has to be a lot more holistic and collaborative”.

Professor Stephen Vasciannie, president of the UTech, congratulated Akinladejo on his appointment to the rank of professor at the university, noting that over his 25 years of service to the institution, he had been promoted through the various academic ranks.

The president noted that “his promotion is testament to his body of extensive research work and his distinguished teaching career in computer science and engineering, which began in his native Nigeria”.

Professor Nilza Aples, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Computing, in her congratulations to Akinladejo, pointed out that although doctoral research work is expected to provide innovative ideas and solutions to problems, not all have the impact of improving human life or augmenting recovery in post-acute stroke patients as shown from the research work spearheaded by Akinladejo.

The dean noted that the Faculty of Engineering and Computing would continue to “position itself as a source of ‘know-how’ in the areas of engineering and computer science and as a technological provider of solutions that offer national and international impact.”