Here’s an interesting, short excerpt from:
“Effects of Robot-Assisted Upper Limb Rehabilitation on Daily Function and Real-World Arm Activity in Patients with Chronic Stroke” by Wan-wen Liao, Ching-yi Wu, Yu-wei Hsieh, Keh-chung Lin and Wan-ying Chang, published August 10th in Clinical Rehabilitation.
Stroke patients usually have difficulties transferring motor skills learned in therapy to their daily living environment because of cognitive deficits. The authors included real-world arm activity in the study by having patients wear accelerometers on both arms daily as they went about their normal tasks.
One of the key findings of the study was that robot-assisted therapy, when combined with functional task training, helps functional arm use and improves bimanual arm activity in daily life. Patients following a stroke often have weakness on one side of the upper body (hemiparesis), which can make daily life more difficult. Robotic rehabilitation is increasingly available, and holds promise for enhancing traditional post-stroke interventions. Because robots never tire, they can provide massive and intensive training in a consistent manner without fatigue, with programming precisely tailored to each patient’s needs.
The rehab robots give sensorimotor feedback via visual and auditory feedback during training sessions, to facilitate patients’ motor learning. However, although stroke patients’ arm motor function and muscle strength have shown to improve during robot-assisted therapy in rehabilitation, previous studies suggested that these improvements did not carry through to the patients’ daily lives. Some reasons for this might include a need for better measurement scales for patients’ real life daily functions, as well as the fact many people compensate by using their non-impaired arm instead. By measuring both arms and following patients with the accelerometers at home, this study addressed these issues.