In a nutshell
The aim of the study was to asses whether robot-assisted reach training (RART) with an active assistant can improve arm function after a stroke. The main finding was that RART showed significant improvements in arm function after 6 weeks.
More than two thirds of patients have problems with arm function after having a stroke. This can make it difficult to do everyday tasks such as dressing, washing and cooking. It can also make it difficult to work and socialize. Therefore, improving hand and arm function is a priority in stroke recovery.
Robot-assisted training has shown promising results. It makes the patients do repetitive tasks allowing the re-learning of movements. RART is where patients improve arm function by reaching for objects over and over again. There are different types of robot control including RART with assist-as needed (RT-AAN) and guidance mode (RT-G). RT-AAN is where assistance is given by the robot to the patient when they need it, depending on how far the patient can get on their own. RT-G is where assistance is given constantly.
It is unknown which type, if any, is better for improving arm function after a stroke.
Methods & findings
This study included 38 patients who had a stroke. Patients were randomly assigned to the RT-AAN group or to the RT-G group. Patients had training with their specified type of robot training for 40-minutes per day, 3 times per week for 6 weeks.
After 6 weeks, both groups showed significant improvements with arm function and speed of movements. However, RT-AAN group showed significantly more improvements in arm function and movements compared to the RT-G group.
The bottom line
The authors concluded that RART was effective in improving arm function and speed after a stroke. In particular, assist-as-needed robot control showed the best improvements in function and speed overall.
The fine print
This study was done with a small number of patients. Bigger studies are needed for more conclusive evidence.
Published By :
Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Feb 01, 2019