Robotics and Upper Limb Therapy

Page, S.J., Hill, V., White, S. (2013) Portable upper extremity robotics is as efficacious as upper extremity rehabilitation therapy: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 27(6), 494-503.

Objective: To compare the efficacy of a repetitive task-specific practice regimen integrating a portable, electromyography-controlled brace called the ‘Myomo’ versus usual care repetitive task-specific practice in subjects with chronic, moderate upper extremity impairment.

Subjects: Sixteen subjects (7 males; mean age 57.0 ± 11.02 years; mean time post stroke 75.0 ± 87.63 months; 5 left-sided strokes) exhibiting chronic, stable, moderate upper extremity impairment.
Interventions: Subjects were administered repetitive task-specific practice in which they participated in valued, functional tasks using their paretic upper extremities. Both groups were supervised by a therapist and were administered therapy targeting their paretic upper extremities that was 30 minutes in duration, occurring 3 days/week for eight weeks. One group participated in repetitive task-specific practice entirely while wearing the portable robotic, while the other performed the same activity regimen manually.

Main outcome measures: The upper extremity Fugl-Meyer, Canadian Occupational Performance Measure and Stroke Impact Scale were administered on two occasions before intervention and once after intervention.

Results: After intervention, groups exhibited nearly identical Fugl-Meyer score increases of ≈2.1 points; the group using robotics exhibited larger score changes on all but one of the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure and Stroke Impact Scale subscales, including a 12.5-point increase on the Stroke Impact Scale recovery subscale.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that therapist-supervised repetitive task-specific practice integrating robotics is as efficacious as manual practice in subjects with moderate upper extremity impairment.