Robot-assisted therapy improved sensorimotor function in patients with arm paresis

Robot-assisted therapy among patients with arm paresis led to slightly better results on average compared with conventional therapy, according to study results published in Lancet Neurology.

Researchers randomly assigned 77 participants to either conventional therapy in which they underwent classical training with a physiotherapist or occupational therapist, or to robot-assisted therapy. To rule out any falsification of the results by spontaneous healing, researchers only enrolled patients who had suffered a stroke more than 6 months previously. All participants had three therapy sessions a week for 8 weeks. Before, during and after this period, patients’ arm mobility was assessed.

According to study results, the robotic therapy produced better results in terms of sensorimotor function compared with conventional therapy. However, conventional therapy produced better results in terms of building strength.

“On average the difference to the conventional therapy was small but patients in particular who had more severe paresis made far greater progress with the help of the robot,” Robert Riener, professor in the Sensory-Motor Systems lab at ETH Zurich, stated in a news release.

“The fact that we have achieved this with the help of the robot is wonderful and gives rise to hope,” Verena Klamroth, a senior scientist in the lab and main author of the study, stated. “The fact that even the most severely afflicted stroke patients now have a chance of therapy is really completely innovatory.”

For more information:

Klamroth-Marganska V. Lancet Neurol. 2013;doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70305-3.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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