Objective: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of robot-assisted hand rehabilitation in improving arm function abilities in sub-acute hemiplegic patients.
Design: Randomized controlled pilot study.
Setting: Inpatient rehabilitation centers.
Participants: Thirty hemiplegic stroke patients (Ashworth spasticity index <3) were recruited and randomly divided into a Treatment group (TG) and Control group (CG).
Interventions: Patients in the TG received intensive hand training with Gloreha, a hand rehabilitation glove that provides computer-controlled, repetitive, passive mobilization of the fingers, with multisensory feedback. Patients in the CG received the same amount of time in terms of conventional hand rehabilitation.
Main outcome measures: Hand motor function (Motricity Index, MI), fine manual dexterity (Nine Hole Peg Test, NHPT) and strength (Grip and Pinch test) were measured at baseline and after rehabilitation, and the differences, (Δ) mean(standard deviation), compared between groups.
Results Twenty-seven patients concluded the program: 14 in the TG and 13 in the CG. None of the patients refused the device and only one adverse event of rheumatoid arthritis reactivation was reported. Baseline data did not differ significantly between the two groups. In TG, ΔMI 23(16.4), ΔNHPT 0.16(0.16), ΔGRIP 0.27(0.23) and ΔPINCH 0.07(0.07) were significantly greater than in CG, ΔMI 5.2(9.2), ΔNHPT 0.02(0.07), ΔGRIP 0.03(0.06) and ΔPINCH 0.02(0.03)] (p=0.002, p=0.009, p=0.003and p=0.038, respectively).
Conclusions: Gloreha Professional is feasible and effective in recovering fine manual dexterity and strength and reducing arm disability in sub-acute hemiplegic patients.