Stroke Rehabilitation Research

Center for Movement-based Interventions to Improve Functional Independence after Stroke.Originally established by Dr. Richard Macko and now directed by Dr. George Wittenberg, MERCE is a VA Center whose mission is to:

  • Develop novel exercise and robotics therapies to improve lower and upper extremity motor function, cardiovascular fitness, and health
  • Perform mechanistic studies of brain plasticity, muscle biology, cardiovascular, and mental health within these novel rehabilitation therapies to understand how they provide health benefits. Apply this knowledge along with advances in rehabilitation technology and robotics engineering toward the design of even more effective therapies.
  • Foster community outreach
  • Provide study enrollment opportunities for Veterans and non-Veterans.

Research work centers on the following four areas:

  • Cardiovascular Health Exercise and Strength Training in Stroke & Neurological Conditions
  • Brain Physiology
  • Robot-Assisted Neurological Training in Stroke & Other Neurological Conditions
  • Wellness & Community-Centered Programs in Stroke & Other Neurological Conditions

Within the Center, Dr. Michael Dimyan is looking to predict the response to upper extremity robotic rehabilitation using functional MRI and techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation.

transcranial magnetic stimulation

Dr. Michael Dimyan is also participating in research on Spasticity:

Allergan ASPIRE - Phase IV Post-Marketing Surveillance Registry

This survey study is sponsored by Allergan to evaluate use and effectiveness of Botox for spasticity associated with neurological dysfunctions including Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, SCI and TBI.

Dr. George Wittenberg is looking into how practice in daily life tasks after robotic rehabilitation might improve functional outcomes.

robotic rehabilitation


Drs. Richard Macko, Anindo Roy, Larry Forrester and Glenn Kehs are applying robotic principles to the lower extremity using a device called the “Anklebot”.  This device has been shown to improve walking in acute stroke rehabilitation, and has the potential to provide improvement in voluntary ankle control better than existing rehabilitation techniques.

Anklebot