2016 Volume 65 Issue 3 Pages 57-63
Robotics is an emerging field in rehabilitation medicine. Robots have the potential to complement traditional clinical assessments because they can measure functions more precisely and quantitatively than current clinical assessments. We present a patient with a proximal humeral fracture whose recovery process was evaluated with an exoskeleton robotic device. The patient, a 34-year-old woman, suffered a left proximal humeral fracture while snowboarding. She is an occupational therapist and is the first author of this study. With conservative therapy, fracture union was seen on X-ray at 6 weeks post-injury. At that time, the patient was permitted to move her left upper limb actively within the tolerance of pain. We assessed the function of the injured upper limb at 6, 7, and 12 weeks post-injury with the KINARM exoskeleton robotic device and with conventional clinical measures. The active range of motion and the muscle strength of the left shoulder improved over time. Using robotic assessment, the precise movement profiles, position sense, and functional ability of both arms were quantified and also showed progressive improvement over time. Assessment with a robotic device of the recovery process after proximal humeral fracture allowed quantification of functional impairments that could not be felt subjectively nor identified with conventional clinical assessments.