Robot therapy for functional recovery of the upper limbs: A pilot study on patients after stroke
Federica Bovolenta, Milena Goldoni, Pierina Clerici, Maurizio Agosti, Marco Franceschini
Objective: To verify the possibility of administering robot-aided therapy for the upper limbs in patients after stroke; to evaluate patients’ degree of acceptance and compliance with the treatment; to establish if the treatment has an effect on motor impairment and functional outcome.
Design: Quasi-experimental, uncontrolled study.
Subjects: Fourteen patients with chronic hemiparesis after stroke.
Methods: Patients were treated with a robotic system for the upper limbs (ReoGoTM; Motorika Medical Ltd, Israel). Subjects performed the following assessment, at the start (T0), at the end of treatment (T1), and at the follow-up performed one month after the end of treatment (T2): Fugl-Meyer test (FM) for upper limbs; strength evaluation; Ashworth scale; visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain; Frenchay Arm test (FAT); Box and Block test (B&B); Functional Independence Measure (FIMTM); ABILHAND Questionnaire; Timed Up and Go test (TUG); Euro-Quality of Life questionnaire and; a VAS for treatment satisfaction were administered to the subjects.
Results: Total scores of FM, B&B, FAT and FIMTM showed a statistically significant improvement from T0 and T1 (FM p < 0.002, B&B p < 0.012, FAT p < 0.023, FIMTM p < 0.007) and from T0 and T2 (FM p < 0.003, B&B p < 0.011, FAT p < 0.024, FIM p < 0.027). No statistically significant differences were found between evaluations at T1 and T2 (FM p < 0.595, B&B p < 0.491, FAT p < 0.317, FIM p < 0.180).
Conclusion: The sample was capable of completing the treatment and demonstrated good participant satisfaction. This pilot study led to the finding of a clinical improvement and excellent patient compliance. It can be hypothesized that the results are robot-dependent and that they were learned and then maintained. However, the study is limited in that a control group was not used. As such, it is desirable to continue this study with a control group, as well as by designing a prospective longitudinal randomized controlled trial study.
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