Walking can help improve stroke recovery

Computational walking model could help stroke patients achieve optimal recovery

by News Medical Life Sciences

After a stroke, patients typically have trouble walking and few are able to regain the gait they had before suffering a stroke. Researchers funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) have developed a computational walking model that could help guide patients to their best possible recovery after a stroke. Computational modeling uses computers to simulate and study the behavior of complex systems using mathematics, physics, and computer science. In this case, researchers are developing a computational modeling program that can construct a model of the patient from the patient’s walking data collected on a treadmill and then predict how the patient will walk after different planned rehabilitation treatments. They hope that one day the model will be able to predict the best gait a patient can achieve after completing rehabilitation, as well as recommend the best rehabilitation approach to help the patient achieve an optimal recovery.

Currently, there is no way for a clinician to determine the most effective rehabilitation treatment prescription for a patient. Clinicians cannot always know which treatment approach to use, or how the approach should be implemented to maximize walking recovery. B.J. Fregly, Ph.D. and his team (Andrew Meyer, Ph.D., Carolynn Patten, PT., Ph.D., and Anil Rao, Ph.D.) at the University of Florida developed a computational modeling approach to help answer these questions. They tested the approach on a patient who had suffered a stroke.

The team first measured how the patient walked at his preferred speed on a treadmill. Using those measurements, they then constructed a neuromusculoskeletal computer model of the patient that was personalized to the patient’s skeletal anatomy, foot contact pattern, muscle force generating ability, and neural control limitations. Fregly and his team found that the personalized model was able to predict accurately the patient’s gait at a faster walking speed, even though no measurements at that speed were used for constructing the model.

“This modeling effort is an excellent example of how computer models can make predictions of complex processes and accelerate the integration of knowledge across multiple disciplines,”says Grace Peng, Ph.D., director of the NIBIB program in Mathematical Modeling, Simulation and Analysis.

Fregly and his team believe this advance is the first step toward the creation of personalized neurorehabilitation prescriptions, filling a critical gap in the current treatment planning process for stroke patients. Together with devices that would ensure the patient is exercising using the proper force and torque, personalized computational models could one day help maximize the recovery of patients who have suffered a stroke.

“Through additional NIH funding, we are embarking with collaborators at Emory University on our first project to predict optimal walking treatments for two individuals post-stroke,” says Fregly. “We are excited to begin exploring whether model-based personalized treatment design can improve functional outcomes.”


National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

Do you dream?

Do you dream?   I started to remember my dreams 2 years ago.  FYI, this is what I said:

Did you ever stop remembering your dreams?  I did…almost 7 years ago.

From time to time, I would remember a dream… after I woke up, but I couldn’t articulate what happened in my dream. This is the FIRST time I dreamt and I was remember what was happening in my dream.  I did something and I remembered it.  This is HUGE!  I almost want to go out and celebrate.

What next???  Will I start being able to articulate my thoughts?  Will I think before I  speak?  Will I be able to walk on my hands?  OK, I can not be walking on my hands… again, but who knows!

I had a dream just the other night…and I think it was in color!  I woke up and was going to tell my wife about it.   I WAS SO EXCITED! I planned the sequence of the dream…the beginning, the middle and the end…and I decided to write it down so I could easily articulate the dream.  I was so excited.  Was this the FINAL barrier I was going to face before getting back to work?  I was also thinking maybe I should take my wife out and spring it on her during our dinner.

I WAS SO excited.  I pulled out a piece of paper and began to write.

I wasn’t able to write ANYTHING.  The minute I started, my mind was racing to find the correct word and nothing would leave my pen.  Darn!   Maybe I should wait another year before I attempt the dream thing.

Do you want to know the single best thing you can do for your heart?


Walking!  The best ideas are often the most simple. This is true in the case of Nilofer Merchant, a Silicon Valley business innovator, whose TED Talk about walking meetings offered one of the most profound yet straightforward corporate wellness solutions. In a corporate world, where the effects of sitting eight hours a day is compared to those of smoking cigarettes, embracing this simple idea makes perfect sense.

Merchant’s fondness of walking meetings was born out of her own health frustrations. She felt that she couldn’t get enough exercise in her day and often had to choose between getting things done or getting healthier. Employees working at desk jobs all across America share this dissatisfaction – it’s difficult to work eight hours a day and muster up the energy to hit the gym after work or wake up for yoga before sunrise. The walking meeting offers a way to multitask, giving employees the ability to exercise their bodies, minds and spirit while still accomplishing important tasks.

What is a Walking Meeting?

In a nutshell, the walking meeting is an active replacement for the typical one-on-one cup of coffee or conference room chat. Instead of sitting still, the participants are able to add anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour of physical activity to their day simply by taking a stroll.

The benefits aren’t confined to the body, however. Proponents of walking meetings suggest that they enhance creativity and problem-solving skills, resolve conflicts, and build social skills. It allows employees to engage both the body and mind and results in a positive working spirit. The time that staff spends working outside on a walk also saves office resources, putting the business solidly on the path to becoming more sustainable and green.

Consider the current environment format of a typical corporate meeting. Often, they’re held in closed-off conference rooms with fluorescent lighting, a setting that isn’t designed to energize the participants. Employees sit around a table and primarily engage with their smart phones or tablets, sometimes taking notes but often being distracted by the same technology that is supposed to make them more productive. The meeting agenda is loosely followed, conversations are scattered and the participants seem drained and disengaged. With a walking meeting, employees are physically moving in a bright, naturally lit environment. Conversations are shorter and more concise, and participants are engaged in the activity and aren’t sitting and staring at their smartphone screens.

Of course, a walking meeting can’t be all things to all people. It’s likely not the way to go for a yearly shareholders meeting, and is typically much more difficult for larger group sizes. It is, however, the go-to suggestion for one-on-one meetings, status updates, brainstorming sessions and more informal gatherings of small groups.

Tips for Your Next Walking Meeting

  • Use a park or outdoor setting whenever possible.
  • Ask participants to turn off their cell phones before the meeting begins.
  • Consider grabbing coffee to go or bringing a water bottle.
  • Try holding walking meetings in the afternoon, when employees’ energy levels are lowest. The fresh air will revive them!
  • Avoid noisy roads or crowded areas.
  • If the group size of is six or more, participants will likely have to deal with multiple side conversations. This is fine for brainstorming or problem solving, but they need to stop and gather back up as a group to keep the meeting productive.
  • Plan indoor meetings in the office space, or have a local route planned in the event of bad weather.
  • Set a goal for walking meetings each week. Suggest replacing weekly status updates with supervisors with a walking meeting and build up to more frequent strolls.
  • Employees should consider purchasing a pedometer or wearable device to track their steps. They’ll see how much additional physical activity they’ll get just by having a few walking meetings a week!
  • Suggest that workers wear comfortable shoes to work or keep a pair at their desk for impromptu meetings.
  • Plot out a few walking routes that work out to the typical length of company meetings. Consider paths that take 15, 30 and 60 minutes to complete.
  • If the staff spends a lot of time on the phone, suggest that employees forward calls to their cell and use that verbal meeting time to pace/walk around instead of sitting at their desks.
  • As with any meeting, facilitators should still send out a formal agenda to keep everyone on track.
  • If it seems beneficial, suggest participants take a digital recorder (or just use an iPhone app) to tape the meeting.

Regardless of whether walking meetings become a key part of the company culture or just a way for employees to get away from their desk for a few moments, take the first step today and break away from the boardroom.

About the Author

Alan Kohll is founder and president of corporate health and wellness solutions TotalWellness. Contact him at alankohll@totalwellnesshealth.com. Follow TotalWellness on LinkedIn and Twitter.

I now remember my dreams!

Did you ever stop remembering your dreams?  I did…almost 7 years ago.

From time to time, I would remember a dream… after I woke up, but I couldn’t articulate what happened in my dream. This is the FIRST time I dreamt and I was remember what was happening in my dream.  I did something and I remembered it.  This is HUGE!  I almost want to go out and celebrate.

What next???  Will I start being able to articulate my thoughts?  Will I think before I  speak?  Will I be able to walk on my hands?  OK, I can not be walking on my hands… again, but who knows!