The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the physiotherapeutic benefits of bilateral symmetric training (BST) for stroke survivors affected by hemiparesis.
Other studies have investigated symmetric physiotherapy. A key difficulty in previous work is in maintaining mirror-imaged trajectories between the affected and less-affected limbs. This obstacle was overcome in this work by using a two-armed robotic exoskeleton to enforce symmetry. In total, 15 subjects, > 6 months post stroke were, randomly assigned to bilateral symmetric robotic training, unilateral robotic training, and standard physical therapy.
After 12 training sessions (90 minutes/session), the bilateral training group had the greatest intensity of movement training. They also had the greatest improvement in range of motion at the shoulder. The unilateral training group showed the greatest reduction in spasticity.
The rationale for symmetric physiotherapy is that it might promote connections from the undamaged brain hemisphere. The robot generated copious amounts of detailed kinematic data. Even though these data provided insights into the human to machine interface using different training modalities, it proved difficult to draw neurological conclusions. It is recommended that future research along these lines should include measures of neurophysiological change and/or changes in neurological activity.
This research suggests that the advantage of bilateral symmetric movement over other modalities is slight, and that robotic training has comparable results with standard care. If BST is used, care is potentially needed to avoid exacerbation of spasticity. Finally, this research includes a novel quantitative approach for evaluating robotic training.
This study is of value to therapeutic researchers interested in new physiotherapy techniques, roboticists interested in developing rehabilitation devices, or for rehabilitation game designers interested in using virtual reality.
This work was supported by a seed funding award from CITRIS in 2010, SFP #66, “Paradigm Shift of Neurorehabilitation of Stroke Patients using Wearable Robotics.”
Simkins, M., Byl, N., Kim, H., Abrams, G. and Rosen, J. (2016), "Upper limb bilateral symmetric training with robotic assistance and clinical outcomes for stroke: A pilot study", International Journal of Intelligent Computing and Cybernetics, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 83-104. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJICC-09-2014-0041Download as .RIS
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