2015 Volume 237 Issue 2 Pages 149-155
Stroke, as a major risk factor for chronic impairment of upper limb function, can severely restrict the activities of daily living. Recently, robotic devices have been used to enhance the functional upper extremity movement of stroke patients. The purpose of the current study was to assess whether a robot-assisted reach training program using a whole arm manipulator (WAM) could improve upper extremity kinematic performance and functional movement for chronic stroke patients. Using a single-group design, this study followed 10 people with chronic stroke (6 men, 61.5 years; Mini-Mental State Examination score: 27.0; onset duration: 8.9 years). WAM with seven degrees of freedom for the shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints was used during robot-assisted reach exercises. Subjects participated in the training program for 40 minutes per day, 2 times a week, for 4 weeks. The main outcome measures were upper extremity kinematic performance (movement velocity) for three directions and functional movement (Action Research Arm Test). Upper extremity kinematic performance and functional movement measures were performed three times: at baseline, during intervention (at 2 weeks), and post intervention. Upper extremity kinematic performance and functional movement showed improvement after two weeks (P < 0.05) and four weeks (P < 0.05) of training compared to baseline. The findings of the current study demonstrated the positive effects of short-term robot-assisted reach training on upper extremity kinematic performance as well as functional movement in individuals with chronic stroke. In addition, the findings of the current study may provide valuable information for subsequent randomized controlled trials.