Content » Vol 41, Issue 12

Original report

Bilateral robot therapy based on haptics and reinforcement learning: Feasibility study of a new concept for treatment of patients after stroke

Valentina Squeri, Maura Casadio, Elena Vergaro, Psiche Giannoni , Pietro Morasso, Vittorio Sanguineti
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0400


Objective: To carry out a preliminary feasibility study of a new concept of robot therapy for severely impaired patients after stroke.
Design: A haptic manipulandum connected to a bar that can rotate freely while providing a measure of the rotation angle. The controller combines a bilateral reaching task with the task of balancing the action of the 2 arms. Reinforcement is given to the subject in 2 forms: audio-visual and haptic by means of adaptable force fields.
Patients: Four highly paretic patients with chronic stroke (Fugl-Meyer score less than 15).
Methods: The training cycle consisted of 5 sessions over a period of 2 weeks. Each session (45 min) was divided in blocks of 10 pairs of forward/backward movements. Performance was determined by evaluating the number of successful movements per session, the session-by-session decrease in the assistive field, the mean reaching time, and the mean stopping field.
Results: All subjects could understand the task, appreciated it and improved their performance during training. The reaching movements became smoother and quicker; balance errors and the magnitude of the resisting field were consistently reduced.
Conclusion: Bilateral robot therapy is a promising technique, provided that it self-adapts to the patient’s performance. Formal clinical trials should address this point.

Lay Abstract

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