Hand motor impairment persists after stroke. Sensory inputs may facilitate recovery of motor function. This pilot study tested the effectiveness of tactile sensory noise in improving hand motor function in chronic stroke survivors with tactile sensory deficits, using a repeated measures design. Sensory noise in the form of subthreshold, white noise, mechanical vibration was applied to the wrist skin during motor tasks. Hand dexterity assessed by the Nine Hole Peg Test and the Box and Block Test and pinch strength significantly improved when the sensory noise was turned on compared with when it was turned off in chronic stroke survivors. The subthreshold sensory noise to the wrist appears to induce improvements in hand motor function possibly via neuronal connections in the sensoriomotor cortex. The approach of applying concomitant, unperceivable mechanical vibration to the wrist during hand motor tasks is easily adoptable for clinic use as well as unsupervised home use. This pilot study suggests a potential for a wristband-type assistive device to complement hand rehabilitation for stroke survivors with sensorimotor deficit.
Seo, N. J., Kosmopoulos, M. L., Enders, L. R., & Hur, P. (2014). Effect of Remote Sensory Noise on Hand Function Post Stroke. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00934