Effects of robot-assisted upper limb rehabilitation on daily function and real-world arm activity in patients with chronic stroke: a randomized controlled trial

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Liao et al.: Effects of robot-assisted upper limb rehabilitation on daily function and real-world arm activity in patients with chronic stroke: a randomized controlled trial

OBJECTIVE:

To compare the outcome of robot-assisted therapy with dose-matched active control therapy by using accelerometers to study functional recovery in chronic stroke patients.

DESIGN:

Prospective, randomized, controlled trial.

SETTING:

Stroke units in three medical centres.

SUBJECTS:

Twenty patients post stroke for a mean of 22 months.

INTERVENTION:

Robot-assisted therapy (n = 10) or dose-matched active control therapy (n = 10). All patients received either of these two therapies for 90-105 minutes each day, 5 days per week, for four weeks.

MAIN MEASURES:

Outcome measures included arm activity ratio (the ratio of mean activity between the impaired and unimpaired arm) and scores on the Fugl-Meyer Assessment Scale, Functional Independence Measure, Motor Activity Log and ABILHAND questionnaire.

RESULTS:

The robot-assisted therapy group significantly increased motor function, hemiplegic arm activity and bilateral arm coordination (Fugl-Meyer Assessment Scale: 51.20 ± 8.82, P = 0.002; mean arm activity ratio: 0.76 ± 0.10, P = 0.026; ABILHAND questionnaire: 1.24 ± 0.28, P = 0.043) compared with the dose-matched active control group (Fugl-Meyer Assessment Scale: 40.90 ± 13.14; mean arm movement ratio: 0.69 ± 0.11; ABILHAND questionnaire: 0.95 ± 0.43).

CONCLUSIONS:

Symmetrical and bilateral robotic practice, combined with functional task training, can significantly improve motor function, arm activity, and self-perceived bilateral arm ability in patients late after stroke.

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