Research articles

By Dr. Simon B Thompson
Corresponding Author Dr. Simon B Thompson
Psychology Research Centre, Bournemouth University, - United Kingdom BH12 5BB
Submitting Author Dr. Simon B Thompson

Computerised Therapy, CVA, Diagnosis, Feedback, Neurology, Podcast, Proprioception, Stroke, Switching Device, Thompson Digital Switch

Thompson SB. Thompson Digital Switch: Helping Stroke Patients to Help Themselves by Promoting Proprioception During Therapy. Brief Report and Podcast as a Teaching Aid for Professionals. WebmedCentral NEUROLOGY 2011;2(3):WMC001721
doi: 10.9754/journal.wmc.2011.001721
Submitted on: 10 Mar 2011 04:34:40 PM GMT
Published on: 11 Mar 2011 10:26:00 PM GMT
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Stroke affects an estimated 4.6 million people with over 500 000 new cases each year and 100 000 people having a second stroke. There is a huge demand on our healthcare services for treating such people. Proprioception is the body?s natural feedback mechanism that becomes disrupted during a stroke because of damaged nerve pathways. Tapping into this phenomenon enables us to re-establish feedback and thus help stroke patients return some of their lost function. The Thompson Digital Switch (TDS) has been used for several decades in assisting occupational therapists and physiotherapists during rehabilitation of stroke patients. Use of the TDS to help other injuries such as leg trauma and deficits following surgery, are presented in a podcast that also informs professionals about the aetiology and prognosis of stroke that can be used as a teaching aid.


The use of cues for improving cognitive deficits following stroke have been followed with great interest by the author. In particular, the use of coloured strips of paper placed in the margin of the page on the patient?s neglected side have resulted in improvement in reading ability by reducing the patient?s tendency to lose their place in the text (Thompson & Morgan, 1996).
Cueing for neglect in stroke is no new and is dependent upon using the modality of the cue that matches the task ? e.g.? for a visual modality task, a visual cue should be used (Thompson, 1999). Ongoing investigations by the author have focused on the reaction times of the quadriceps muscle group, situated in the upper thigh, especially where incomplete innervation has resulted from a stroke and also following a serious road traffic accident (Illustration 1).
Extensive testing in the university and in field tests at various occupational therapy departments (Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham; Salisbury District Hospital, Odstock; Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar (Thompson, 1987a,b; 1998), involved?the use of the ?quadriceps switch?, used throughout most UK hospitals and in Northern Ireland during the rehabilitation of gunshot injury to the leg muscle, and a fast digital sampler and interpreter of electrical nerve impulses from the movement of leg muscles (Thompson, 2011; Thompson & Coleman, 1987; 1989) (Illustration 2).
Computer and electromyography (EMG) was used to measure the muscular electrical nerve activity. Variations in displays and tones were designed and validated in order to optimise on the best type of cue (Illustrations 3 - 5).
The podcast associated with this article (Video 1) presents the demands of a stroke in terms of cognitive and perceptual deficits and aetiology and prognosis. This is intended as a teaching aid for professionals whether occupational or physical therapists, clinical psychologists, nurses or doctors.


Feedback systems typically had limited application in the early 1960s but later gave clinicians more than just familiarity with this new way of representing ?body waves?. The deficits of stroke can be far reaching and it is important to offer explore innovative approaches to assist in rehabilitation. Being realistic about goals during rehabilitation is of paramount importance (Thompson, 2006) but new technologies do provide hope for the future for our valued patients. Podcasts are also a valuable way of presenting information in an interesting and individual format.


1.Thompson, S. B. N. (1987a). A system for rapidly converting quadriceps contraction to a digital signal for use in microcomputer-oriented muscle therapy and stroke patient assessment schedules. Computers in Biology & Medicine: An International Journal, 17(2), 117-125.?
2.Thompson, S. B. N. (1987b). A microcomputer-feedback system for improving control of incompletely innervated leg muscle in adult cerebrovascular accident patients. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 5 (5), 161-166.
3.Thompson, S. B. N. (1998). Working in stroke rehabilitation: trends for clinical neuropsychology for the next century. Journal of Cognitive Rehabilitation, 16(3), 6-11.
4.Thompson, S. B. N. (1999). Rehabilitation of cognitive and emotional problems. In R. Fawcus (Ed.), Stroke rehabilitation: a collaborative approach (pp.147-159). Oxford, Blackwell.
5.Thompson, S. B. N. (2006). Dementia and memory: A handbook for students and professionals. Aldershot: Ashgate.
6.Thompson, S. B. N., 2011. Psychology of trauma: clinical reviews, case histories, research. Portsmouth: Blackwell-Harvard-Academic.
7.Thompson, S. B. N., & Coleman, M. J. (1987). A quantitative assessment of neuromuscular function for use with unilateral cerebrovascular accident patients. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 10(3), 312-316.
8.Thompson, S. B. N., & Coleman, M. J. (1989). An interative microcomputer-system for the assessment and prognosis of stroke patients. Journal of Microcomputer Applications, 12(1), 33-40.
9.Thompson, S. B. N., & Morgan, M. (1996). Occupational therapy for stroke rehabilitation. 2nd reprint. London: Chapman & Hall.

Source(s) of Funding

Ethical approval - Not applicable; Source of funding - None.

Competing Interests

Competing interests - None.


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Thomson Digital Switch Posted by Prof. Jayendra R Gohil on 14 Jan 2012 03:14:32 PM GMT

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