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Effects of a Robot-Assisted Arm Training Plus Hand Functional Electrical Stimulation on Recovery After Stroke: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Published:October 31, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2019.09.016

      Abstract

      Objective

      To compare the effects of unilateral, proximal arm robot-assisted therapy combined with hand functional electrical stimulation with intensive conventional therapy for restoring arm function in survivors of subacute stroke.

      Design

      This was a single-blinded, randomized controlled trial.

      Setting

      Inpatient rehabilitation university hospital.

      Participants

      Patients (N=40) diagnosed as having ischemic stroke (time since stroke <8wk) and upper limb impairment were enrolled.

      Interventions

      Participants randomized to the experimental group received 30 sessions (5 sessions/wk) of robot-assisted arm therapy and hand functional electrical stimulation (RAT+FES). Participants randomized to the control group received a time-matched intensive conventional therapy.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The primary outcome was arm motor recovery measured with the Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment. Secondary outcomes included motor function, arm spasticity, and activities of daily living. Measurements were performed at baseline, after 3 weeks, at the end of treatment, and at 6-month follow-up. Presence of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) was also measured at baseline.

      Results

      Both groups significantly improved all outcome measures except for spasticity without differences between groups. Patients with moderate impairment and presence of MEPs who underwent early rehabilitation (<30d post stroke) demonstrated the greatest clinical improvements.

      Conclusions

      RAT+FES was no more effective than intensive conventional arm training. However, at the same level of arm impairment and corticospinal tract integrity, it induced a higher level of arm recovery.

      Keywords

      List of abbreviations:

      BI (Barthel Index), FES (functional electrical stimulation), FMA-UE (Fugl-Meyer Assessment–Upper Extremity), ICT (intensive conventional therapy), MCID (minimal clinically important difference), MEP (motor-evoked potential), RAT (robot-assisted arm therapy), TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), WMFT (Wolf Motor Function Test)
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