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Stochastic resonance therapy

Various exercises for movement (locomotion) can significantly improve the motor function and restore gait in patients with various diseases that affect the nervous system. However, the patient's condition does not always allow him/her to attempt these exercises. A method of vibration therapy, which is based on the phenomenon of stochastic resonance of the biological systems, was developed especially for such patients.

Therapeutic effect of running

Bipedal locomotion, and in particular running are attributed to the fundamental human capabilities, which were developed during the evolutionary process. Bipedal locomotion plays one of the key roles in the historical development of the race and the person's ability to survive and adapt. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the ability to walk and run is one of the fundamental functions of the nervous system, at the same level with neuroplasticity, the ability to grow nerve fibres and neuroprotection. As it turned out, these "elementary" abilities are closely related and the dependence is by no means unilateral (i.e. it does not mean that walking is a secondary function and cannot affect other functions.) Therefore, the exercises aimed at running / walking not only affect the motor function.

For example, it was found that the use of a treadmill can improve memory and significantly accelerate the processes of neurogenesis in the hippocampus. The effect of running in this respect significantly exceeded the effect of swimming and hydrotherapy. In general, scientists have managed to establish that running positively affects neurotrophic processes, contributes to the growth factors of the nerve cells and their regeneration, which helps alleviate various symptoms of neurological disorders.

However, as already mentioned, not all patients can cope with active exercises for walking and running. To overcome this obstacle, a technique for stimulating nerve endings was developed, which makes it possible to achieve an effect comparable to running and does not require the patient's ability to perform active exercises.

Effect of vibration stimulation

Various types of vibration stimulation have been used in neurorehabilitation since the 19th century, when the French neurophysiologist Jean-Martin Charcot managed to achieve and alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. It was later found that the use of oscillating systems of different frequencies can affect a variety of human functions and organs: muscles, posture, blood flow, restoration of nerve fibres, various physiological functions, etc.

The processes underlying the effect of stimulation have a pronounced nonlinearity. This is manifested in the fact that the smallest changes in the parameters of vibration lead to completely different effects and, moreover, the same action has a different effect for different patients. Stochastic resonance therapy deals with a detailed study of these effects and their application in neurorehabilitation.

Stochastic resonance

Stochastic resonance is a phenomenon of amplification of a periodic signal under the action of a certain sound intensity. This phenomenon was first discovered during the study of periodic climate changes during the glacial period. Subsequently, a mathematical theory was developed that provides a fundamental justification and generalised similar phenomena inherent in any nonlinear systems. The activity of neurons is one of the areas, upon which this theory found its application. In other words, with a certain external effect combining both periodic signal and noise, it is possible to stimulate neurophysiological processes in patients with neurological disorder.

Application of the method of stochastic resonance stimulation

The consequence of a spinal cord injury, and degenerative diseases, such as, Parkinson's disease is the rupture of neuronal connections, which leads to a partial loss of the neurological function and the further destruction of the nervous system. In this case, the method of stochastic mechanical stimulation can prevent the spread of degenerative processes and stimulate the self-restoration of neurons.

In Parkinson's disease, the approach helps to reduce tremor. The clinical studies show a decrease in tremors by an average of 25% (After undergoing 5 courses of stimulation, each lasting for 5 minutes). There was also an alleviation of symptoms, such as stiffness, bradykinesia, gait and posture abnormalities. According to the research, the effect is achieved not only due to the influence of stochastic resonance on the nervous system, but also due to the stimulation of dopamine production.

The use of the method for the rehabilitation on patients with spinal cord injuries has also revealed the improvement of symptoms, namely a significant improvement in motor function.

Nowadays, the method is included in a set of therapeutic measures provided in for the patients with neurological disorders. The main area of application is Parkinson's disease and gait disorders. However, it is planned to expand to other neurological disorders, for example, restoration of handwriting and improvement of hand coordination.

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