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Exercise as Medicine for the Treatment of Brain Dysfunction: Evidence for Cortical Stroke, Cerebellar Ataxia, and Parkinson’s Disease

Yu-Ting Tseng, Sanaz Khosravani, Arash Mahnan, and Jürgen Konczak

This review addresses the role of exercise as an intervention for treating neurological disease. It focuses on three major neurological diseases that either present in acute or neurodegenerative forms—Parkinson’s disease, cerebellar ataxia, and cortical stroke. Each of the diseases affects primarily different brain structures, namely the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, and the cerebrum. These structures are all known to be involved in motor control, and the dysfunction of each structure leads to distinct movement deficits. The review summarizes current knowledge on how exercise can aid rehabilitation or therapeutic efforts. In addition, it addresses the role of robotic devices in enhancing available therapies by reviewing how robot-aided therapies may promote the recovery for stroke survivors. It highlights recent scientific evidence in support of exercise as a treatment for brain dysfunction, but also outlines the still open challenges for unequivocally demonstrating the benefits of exercise.

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Table Tennis, as a Method of Sensorimotor Training, Induces Haptic and Motor Gains in Children With a Probable Developmental Coordination Disorder

Yu-Ting Tseng, Chia-Liang Tsai, Tzu Hsuan Wu, Yi-Wen Chen, and Yi-Hsuan Lin

This study examined whether table tennis as a method of sensorimotor training improves haptic and motor function and to what extent haptic function gain correlates with changes in motor ability in children with probable developmental coordination disorder (pDCD). Children with pDCD were randomly assigned to the table tennis and nontraining control groups. The children in the table tennis group received 36 sessions of table tennis training, including ball balancing, hitting the ball against the wall, strokes, and serving. Haptic sensitivity, acuity, and motor function domains were measured. The results showed a 41.5% improvement in haptic sensitivity in children exposed to table tennis training compared with 2.8% in those without training. This improved haptic sensitivity significantly correlated with motor function gain, suggesting that somatosensory gains occur simultaneously with changes in motor function in children with pDCD. This novel upper limb motor training approach may be an interesting method of sensorimotor training in neurological rehabilitation in children with pDCD.