JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is researching breakthrough stroke treatment

Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is researching a breakthrough medical device that delivers electromagnetic therapy to the brain to accelerate healing after a stroke.

JFK Johnson is one of 20 rehabilitation hospitals nationwide enrolling patients in the EMAGINE Stroke Recovery Trial, which aims to enhance recovery and reduce disability after neurologic damage caused by stroke.

The wearable device, which can be used in a hospital setting, outpatient clinic and at home, would augment JFK Johnson’s existing rehabilitation therapies.

“We’re participating in this innovative research and other clinical trials because we’re continually working to maximize the recovery of our patients and advance the science of stroke recovery,” Sara Cuccurullo, chair, vice president and medical director of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute and principal investigator of the study, said. “We want all of our patients to reach their highest quality of life.”

Cuccurullo is professor, chairman and residency program director of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She is also physician-in-chief of the Rehabilitation Care Transformation Service at Hackensack Meridian Health.

The wearable device was given breakthrough status by the Food and Drug Administration after a pilot study showed promise. The study is funded by BrainQ, the technology company that developed the investigational device.

The device targets networks in the brain with a low-intensity, frequency-tuned electromagnetic field therapy. JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is training rehabilitation specialists to guide patients and to train caregivers to use the device. The program is over 45 hourlong sessions, five times each week, with weekly follow-up from a JFK Johnson rehabilitation specialist.

JFK Johnson treats approximately 750 stroke patients each year.

“The patients we’re talking to are interested and tell us they want to do whatever they can to recover as fully as possible,” Maria Belen Montealegre, occupational therapy supervisor and site coordinator of the clinical trial, said.

The EMAGINE trial will enroll 150 randomized subjects nationwide within four to 21 days following a stroke.