[ARTICLE] Affordable stroke therapy in high-, low- and middle-income countries: From Theradrive to Rehab CARES, a compact robot gym – Full Text

 

Affordable technology-assisted stroke rehabilitation approaches can improve access to rehabilitation for low-resource environments characterized by the limited availability of rehabilitation experts and poor rehabilitation infrastructure. This paper describes the evolution of an approach to the implementation of affordable, technology-assisted stroke rehabilitation which relies on low-cost mechatronic/robot devices integrated with off-the-shelf or custom games. Important lessons learned from the evolution and use of Theradrive in the USA and in Mexico are briefly described. We present how a stronger and more compact version of the Theradrive is leveraged in the development of a new low-cost, all-in-one robot gym with four exercise stations for upper and lower limb therapy called Rehab Community-based Affordable Robot Exercise System (Rehab C.A.R.E.S). Three of the exercise stations are designed to accommodate versions of the 1 DOF haptic Theradrive with different custom handles or off-the-shelf commercial motion machine. The fourth station leverages a unique configuration of Wii-boards. Overall, results from testing versions of Theradrive in USA and Mexico in a robot gym suggest that the resulting presentation of the Rehab C.A.R.E.S robot gym can be deployed as an affordable computer/robot-assisted solution for stroke rehabilitation in developed and developing countries.

Non-communicable diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, are the leading cause of death and disability in the world. An increase in their prevalence often leads to higher incidences of stroke and consequently, an increase in the number of persons living with permanent disability due to stroke.1,2 Stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Over 6.8 million adults live in the USA with disabilities due to a stroke, and by 2030, this number will grow by 4 million.3,4Seventy-five percent of adults recovering from stroke have residual impairment in their limbs, with only about 25% achieving recovery with minor impairments, and only 10% achieving full recovery.57 Greater than 30% are unable to walk without some assistance and 26% remain dependent in activities of daily living.8

The issues influencing rehabilitation outcomes are complex; some examples of these issues are poverty, increase in health costs, short length of stays, insurance limitations, and physical constraints on rehabilitation services (e.g. time).3,6 In low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), rehabilitation outcomes are worse since a disproportionate number of the population is without easy access to rehabilitation technologies, services and skilled clinicians.1,3,9,10 Improved stroke rehabilitation approaches can maximize the functional independence of stroke survivors discharged after inpatient and outpatient services and improve access to rehabilitation for low-resource environments in USA or other LMICs.

Our long-term goal is to develop and use affordable robot technologies to improve access to rehabilitation and ultimately improve the health and function of persons with persistent motor deficits due to a stroke in the USA and worldwide, especially in LMICs where more than 80% of those living with a stroke reside. Specifically, we desire to target stroke survivors who are diagnosed with hemiparesis, are living with severe to moderate motor function impairment, and are without easy access to rehabilitation. Research efforts are needed to develop cost-effective robot devices that can do the above and function in harsher environments characterized by extreme economic hardship (per country), intermittent energy and limited expert supervisors.

Our main approach to delivering rehabilitation has always promoted robot/computer-assisted motivating rehabilitation systems for stroke therapy.31 We have proposed the use and development of mechatronic devices alone or within a suite of devices for upper limb stroke therapy. This paper summarizes lessons learned regarding the delivery of affordable and accessible stroke therapy in HICs and LMICs. We illustrate these lessons via the use of Theradrive, alone (TD-1),2832 its development into a 1DOF Haptic Robot called Haptic Theradrive,3638 a therapy gym in Mexico (TD-2),3335 where Theradrive was one of six devices aimed at improving motor function after stroke. The paper then presents how a stronger and more compact version of the Theradrive is re-designed and leveraged in the development of a new low-cost, all-in-one robot gym called Rehab Community-based Affordable Robot Exercise System (Rehab C.A.R.E.S) with four exercise stations for upper and lower limb therapy. The prototype of the system is described along with strategies for control and new results from testing on exercise station 2. Finally, we discuss implications for deploying such a system in LMICs. […]

Continue —> Affordable stroke therapy in high-, low- and middle-income countries: From Theradrive to Rehab CARES, a compact robot gymJournal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering – Michelle Jillian Johnson, Roshan Rai, Sarath Barathi, Rochelle Mendonca, Karla Bustamante-Valles, 2017

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Figure 1. Theradrive (TD-1), Mexico Theradrive (TD-2), and Haptic Theradrive (TD-3). The Mexico Theradrive has a similar platform to TD-1. Note: Figure 1 used with permission from reference 37.

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