A technology combining motor imagery, virtual reality and electrical stimulation to treat people who suffered a stroke is bringing hope to patients in 27 countries, including Israel.Israeli biotechnology company NBT has brought to the country the special treatment developed by the Austria-based venture Recoverix, as Recoverix Israel CEO Nadav Schechter explained to The Jerusalem Post. The technology is based on what is called “brain-computer interface” or BCI, the ability to connect the brain activities to external devices.“We are the only technology worldwide using BCI to treat stroke survivors,” he said.In order to explain how the treatment works, the CEO suggested considering the example of a patient who is not able to move one or both arms following a stroke.“We put a very flexible device connected to 16 electrodes on the patient’s head to register and analyze their brain activity. Moreover, specific electrodes are placed on each of the patient’s arms to provide the electrical stimulation. Finally they sit in front of a screen showing a virtual avatar imitating their motions,” he explained. “The task is simple and yet demanding: imagining your arm bending the forearm upward. If the patient can achieve a motor imagery of this specific motion, the system can capture it from the brain activity and in the same millisecond, the avatar on screen reproduces that specific motion, so the patient sees it. In parallel to that, the arm received electrical stimulation.”The patient is therefore able to imagine the movement, see it and feel the electrical stimulation in the relevant body part.The goal is to form an alternative synaptic connection that will slowly take over the neurons left dead by the stroke. As a result, the patient is able to reacquire some of the functions they had lost.Schechter highlighted that improvements vary between each patient and can be minimal but at the same time they are life-changing.Moreover, the treatment is potentially relevant for all those who survived a stroke as long as they have maintained cognitive ability, even if the stroke occurred years before, while Schechter pointed out that the common medical approach is that after the first year it is not possible to work with patients on rehabilitation but only on preservation of the functions left.Recoverix currently operates two clinics in Israel and has treated about 40 patients. While at the moment the company offers the therapy to those who need help with the upper part of the body and specifically the arms, from October the goal is to also start receiving patients who lost functions in their legs.Schechter said they hope that in the future Israeli medical insurance funds are going to cover the cost of the treatment, at least partially, as it is already happening in Austria and Finland.The cost of treatment, which lasts three months with two sessions a week, is about NIS 20,000.