Hesse et al.: A new electromechanical trainer for sensorimotor rehabilitation of paralysed fingers: A case series in chronic and acute stroke patients
The functional outcome after stroke is improved by more intensive or sustained therapy. When the affected hand has no functional movement, therapy is mainly passive movements. A novel device for repeating controlled passive movements of paralysed fingers has been developed, which will allow therapists to concentrate on more complicated tasks. A powered cam shaft moves the four fingers in a physiological range of movement.
After refining the training protocol in 2 chronic patients, 8 sub-acute stroke patients were randomised to receive additional therapy with the Finger Trainer for 20 min every work day for four weeks, or the same duration of bimanual group therapy, in addition to their usual rehabilitation.
In the chronic patients, there was a sustained reduction in finger and wrist spasticity, but there was no improvement in active movements. In the subacute patients, mean distal Fugl-Meyer score (0-30) increased in the control group from 1.25 to 2.75 (ns) and 0.75 to 6.75 in the treatment group (p < .05). Median Modified Ashworth score increased 0/5 to 2/5 in the control group, but not in the treatment group, 0 to 0. Only one patient, in the treatment group, regained function of the affected hand. No side effects occurred.
Treatment with the Finger Trainer was well tolerated in sub-acute & chronic stroke patients, whose abnormal muscle tone improved. In sub-acute stroke patients, the Finger Trainer group showed small improvements in active movement and avoided the increase in tone seen in the control group. This series was too small to demonstrate any effect on functional outcome however.