Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Increased mobility thanks to robotic rehab

Date:
January 16, 2014
Source:
ETH Zurich
Summary:
After a stroke, patients often struggle with persistent paresis. Researchers examined whether robot-assisted therapy can help stroke patients. This form of therapy proved successful particularly with the most severely affected persons with arm paresis.

Test person training with the therapy robot ARMin.
Credit: Dietmar Heinz

Every year around 16,000 people have a stroke in Switzerland. The survivors often struggle with persistent loss of function of the central nervous system. Around the world strokes are one of the most frequent causes of paresis. Physiotherapy or occupational therapy can restore a certain degree of mobility. However, a patient with severe paresis, for instance of an arm, can only recover limited function through these therapeutic exercises.

A new study by the ETH research team of Robert Riener, Professor in the Sensory-Motor Systems Lab, raises fresh hope. The researchers compared the progress of patients with arm paresis in two different forms of therapy: firstly conventional therapy in which patients underwent classical training with a physiotherapist or occupational therapist, and secondly therapy in which a robot aided arm movements during training. Their study showed that the robot-assisted therapy leads on average to slightly better results than the conventional therapy.

Pouring simulated water

"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," explains Riener. One reason could be that the robot can be adjusted to the individual patient. It assists arm movements, which means that even patients with severe paresis can carry out the exercises efficiently. The robot also enables playful training of activities of daily living (ADLs) via a computer simulation displayed on a screen. For instance, patients can take their time to practice pouring water from a jug into a glass without actually spilling anything.

Half of the 77 test persons were given the conventional and the other half the robot-assisted therapy. They each had three therapy sessions a week over eight weeks. Before, during and after this period an independent person regularly assessed the arm mobility of the test persons using various, established scoring systems (the primary end point was the Fugl-Meyer test) without knowing which form of therapy they had received. Furthermore, the researchers limited the selection of test persons to patients who had suffered a stroke more than six months previously in order to rule out any falsification of the results by spontaneous healing.

Breaking through the plateau

Roughly six months after a stroke most patients reach a chronic stage despite therapy in which further treatment would not restore hardly any additional mobility. Verena Klamroth, Senior Scientist with Riener and the main author of the study, said that overcoming this plateau was a major challenge for clinical research. "The fact that we have achieved this with the help of the robot is wonderful and gives rise to hope." The study was published recently in the medical journal The Lancet Neurology.

Comparison revealed that the robotic therapy produced better results in terms of sensory-motor function, but conventional therapy in terms of building strength. The researchers do, however, see a way of overcoming this shortcoming of robotic therapy in future. If patients could carry out the exercises in a robot against adjustable resistance, then strength building would probably improve as well which, in turn, would lead to greater mobility.

Independent training

An advantage of the therapy robot is not just that this form of therapy is possible for every degree of paresis but also that the patients can train independently, perhaps one day even at home, says Riener. The robot not only supports movement but also motivates the patient via computer game elements. Thanks to these game-like elements patients repeat the exercises more often and the researchers felt that this could be one of the advantages of robotic therapy.

A certain degree of caution should be exercised regarding the results as a blind control, the norm for placebo-controlled clinical trials, was not possible in this case according to Klamroth. Patients generally tend to respond more to a novel than to a long-established form of therapy. Nevertheless, the researchers see great potential for robot-assisted therapy. "The fact that even the most severely afflicted stroke patients now have a chance of therapy is really completely innovatory," says Klamroth. The major potential of this new form of therapy would now have to be examined in further studies over longer periods with more test parameters and in larger groups of patients with varying degrees of paresis.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ETH Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Verena Klamroth-Marganska, Javier Blanco, Katrin Campen, Armin Curt, Volker Dietz, Thierry Ettlin, Morena Felder, Bernd Fellinghauer, Marco Guidali, Anja Kollmar, Andreas Luft, Tobias Nef, Corina Schuster-Amft, Werner Stahel, Robert Riener. Three-dimensional, task-specific robot therapy of the arm after stroke: a multicentre, parallel-group randomised trial. The Lancet Neurology, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70305-3

Cite This Page:

ETH Zurich. "Increased mobility thanks to robotic rehab." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116113508.htm>.
ETH Zurich. (2014, January 16). Increased mobility thanks to robotic rehab. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116113508.htm
ETH Zurich. "Increased mobility thanks to robotic rehab." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140116113508.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins