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April 1997

The Effect of Robot-Assisted Therapy and Rehabilitative Training on Motor Recovery Following Stroke

Author Affiliations

From the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, White Plains, NY (Drs Aisen, McDowell, and Volpe), and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (Mr Krebs and Dr Hogan).

Arch Neurol. 1997;54(4):443-446. doi:10.1001/archneur.1997.00550160075019

Background:  We used MIT-Manus, a robot designed to provide interactive, goal-directed motor activity for clinical neurologic applications.

Objective:  To test whether this robotic manipulation of the impaired limb influenced motor recovery in patients with hemiplegia.

Methods:  Sequential patients with a history of a single stroke and hemiplegia (N=20) hospitalized on the same acute care rehabilitation floor were enrolled in a standard rehabilitation program supplemented by either robot-aided therapy or sham robot-aided therapy. These 2 groups were comparable in age, initial physical impairment, and time between onset of the stroke and enrollment in the trial. Patients, clinical team members, and the clinical evaluator were blinded to the treatment group assignments. Standardized assessment tools measured outcomes.

Results:  Impairment and disability declined in both groups between hospital admission and discharge. The robot-treated group showed a greater degree of improvement in all 3 measures of motor recovery, and the change in motor status measured in the proximal upper limb musculature was significant (P=.002). No adverse events resulted from robot-assisted therapy.

Conclusions:  These results suggest that robotic manipulation of the impaired limb may favorably add to recovery following stroke and that robotics may provide new strategies for neurologic rehabilitation.