In order for stroke victims to gain functional recovery of their hemiparetic limbs, facilitation techniques such as the repetitive facilitation exercise, or RFE, have been developed. Currently, there is a lack of understanding of the neural mechanisms associated with these types of facilitation techniques. To better understand the neural mechanisms associated with the RFE a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study should be conducted. This paper presents initial experimental results testing the feasibility of implementing an fMRI-compatible actuator to facilitate a myotatic reflex in synchronization with the patient’s intention to move the hemiparetic limb. Preliminary data from a healthy individual demonstrated the feasibility of overlapping the long latency component of the afferent myotatic reflex with descending nerve impulses in a time window of 15ms. In addition, to implement the RFE into an fMRI-compatible device, a pneumatic actuation time delay due to long transmission line was evaluated. The results may be used for the assessment of the RFE using an fMRI-compatible robotic device in the future.

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