Robot-based rehabilitation of the upper limbs in multiple sclerosis: Feasibility and preliminary results
Ilaria Carpinella, Davide Cattaneo, Suha Abuarqub, Maurizio Ferrarin
Objective: To make a preliminary evaluation of the feasibility of a robot-based rehabilitation protocol for the improvement of upper limb motor co-ordination in a group of patients with multiple sclerosis.
Patients and methods: Seven patients with multiple sclerosis underwent a training protocol of 8 sessions. During each session patients performed reaching movements toward virtual targets presented on a screen, by moving the handle of a robot, which generated resistive and disturbing forces. Each subject was evaluated before and after the treatment by means of clinical and instrumental tests.
Results: After the 8-session treatment, all patients significantly improved the velocity, linearity and smoothness of their reaching movements. Moreover, this amelioration was also present in other kinds of movement, not executed during the sessions. Results on the Nine-Hole Peg Test showed a clinically relevant improvement in the treated arm of 4 out of 7 patients, suggesting also a transfer of the therapy effect to tasks more related to activities of daily living.
Conclusion: The preliminary results of this pilot study suggest that robot therapy can be applied to patients with multiple sclerosis in a clinical setting and may be beneficial for reduction of the upper limb motor co-ordination deficit.
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