Archive for category Paretic Hand



SMARTmove is a £1.1 million Medical Research Council research project running for 30 months from September 2016 to February 2019, funded under the Development Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS). The project brings together a multidisciplinary team with expertise in functional materials, direct printing fabrication, control algorithms, wireless electronics, sensors, and end user engagement to address stroke rehabilitation. Working together with the advisory board members from six institutions, we will deliver a personalised wearable device for home-based stroke upper limb rehabilitation.


The Need

Stroke is one of the largest causes of disability: 17 million strokes occur every year worldwide, meaning one stroke every two seconds. Half of stroke survivors lose the ability to perform everyday tasks with their upper limb, which affects their independence. The cost to society in the UK is nine billion pounds per year due to health and social care, informal care, productivity loss and benefit payments. As stroke is an age-related disease, these numbers are set to increase as the population ages.


Current commercial devices using functional electrical stimulation (FES) have large electrodes that only stimulate a limited number of muscles, resulting in simple, imprecise movements and the rapid onset of fatigue. In addition, current commercial devices do not employ feedback control to account for the movement of patients, only reducing the level of precision in the resulting movements. In addition, devices are either bulky and expensive, or difficult to set-up due to trailing wires.

Our project uses bespoke screen printable pastes to print electrode arrays directly onto everyday fabrics, such as those used in clothing. The resulting garments will have cutting-edge sensor technologies integrated into them. Advanced control algorithms will then adjust the stimulation based on the patients’ limb motion to enable precise functional movements, such as eating, washing or dressing.


This project will deliver a fabric-based wearable FES for home based stroke rehabilitation. The beneficiaries include:

  1. Persons with stroke (PwS) and other neurological conditions. Stroke survivors are the direct beneficiaries of our research. The FES clothing can be adapted to also treat hand/arm disabilities resulting from other neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, head injury, spinal cord injury, and multiple sclerosis. The use of the wearable training system increases the intensity of rehabilitation without an increase in clinical contact time. This leads to better outcomes such as reduced impairment, greater restoration of function, improved quality of life and increased social activity.
  2. The NHS. FES-integrated clothing is comfortable to wear and convenient to use for rehabilitation, enabling impaired people to benefit from FES at home. It will transfer hospital based professional care to home based self-care, and therefore will reduce NHS costs by saving healthcare professionals’ time and other hospital resources.
  3. Industry. Benefits include: bringing business to the whole supply chain; increasing the FES market demand by improving performance; benefiting other industry sectors such as rehabilitation for other neurological conditions.
  4. Research communities in related fields. Specifically, the fields of novel fabrication, control systems, design of medical devices, rehabilitation, smart fabrics, and remote healthcare will benefit from the highly transformative platform technology (e.g. direct write printing, fabric electrodes, iterative learning control systems) developed in this work.

What is FES?

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a technique used to facilitate the practice of therapeutic exercises and tasks. Intensive movement practice can restore the upper limb function lost following stroke. However, stroke patients often have little or no movement, so are unable to practice. FES activates muscles artificially to facilitate task practise and improve patients’ movement.


Source: SMARTmove


, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Adaptive hybrid robotic system for rehabilitation of reaching movement after a brain injury: a usability study – Full Text



Brain injury survivors often present upper-limb motor impairment affecting the execution of functional activities such as reaching. A currently active research line seeking to maximize upper-limb motor recovery after a brain injury, deals with the combined use of functional electrical stimulation (FES) and mechanical supporting devices, in what has been previously termed hybrid robotic systems. This study evaluates from the technical and clinical perspectives the usability of an integrated hybrid robotic system for the rehabilitation of upper-limb reaching movements after a brain lesion affecting the motor function.


The presented system is comprised of four main components. The hybrid assistance is given by a passive exoskeleton to support the arm weight against gravity and a functional electrical stimulation device to assist the execution of the reaching task. The feedback error learning (FEL) controller was implemented to adjust the intensity of the electrical stimuli delivered on target muscles according to the performance of the users. This control strategy is based on a proportional-integral-derivative feedback controller and an artificial neural network as the feedforward controller. Two experiments were carried out in this evaluation. First, the technical viability and the performance of the implemented FEL controller was evaluated in healthy subjects (N = 12). Second, a small cohort of patients with a brain injury (N = 4) participated in two experimental session to evaluate the system performance. Also, the overall satisfaction and emotional response of the users after they used the system was assessed.


In the experiment with healthy subjects, a significant reduction of the tracking error was found during the execution of reaching movements. In the experiment with patients, a decreasing trend of the error trajectory was found together with an increasing trend in the task performance as the movement was repeated. Brain injury patients expressed a great acceptance in using the system as a rehabilitation tool.


The study demonstrates the technical feasibility of using the hybrid robotic system for reaching rehabilitation. Patients’ reports on the received intervention reveal a great satisfaction and acceptance of the hybrid robotic system.


Upper limb hemiparesis is one of the most common consequences after a brain injury accident [1]. This motor impairment has an adverse impact on the quality of life of survivors since it hinders the execution of activities of daily living. From the rehabilitation perspective, it is widely accepted that high-intensity and repetitive task-specific practice is the most effective principle to promote motor recovery after a brain injury [12]. However, traditional rehabilitation treatment offers a dose of movement repetition that is in most cases insufficient to facilitate neural reorganization [3]. In response to these current clinical shortcomings, there is a clear interest in alternative rehabilitation methods that improve the arm motor functionality of brain injury survivors.

Hybrid robotic systems for motor rehabilitation are a promising approach that combine the advantages of robotic support or assistive devices and functional electrical stimulation (FES) technologies to overcome their individual limitations and to offer more robust rehabilitation interventions [4]. Despite the potential benefits of using hybrid robotic systems for arm rehabilitation, a recent published review shows that only a few hybrid systems presented in the literature were tested with stroke patients [4]. Possible reasons could be the difficulties arising from the integration of both assistive technologies or the lack of integrated platforms that can be easily setup and used.

End-effector robotic devices combined with FES represent the most typical hybrid systems used to train reaching tasks under constrained conditions [567]. With these systems, patients’ forearms are typically restricted to the horizontal plane to isolate the training of the elbow extension movement. The main advantage of this approach is the simplicity of the setup, with only 1 Degree of Freedom (DoF). However, to maximize the treatment’s outcomes and achieve functional improvement it is necessary to train actions with higher range of motion (> 1 DoF) and functional connotations [89]. Yet, the complexity for driving a successful movement execution in such scenarios requires the implementation of a robust and reliable FES controller.

The appropriate design and implementation of FES controllers play a key role to achieve stable and robust motion control in hybrid robotic systems. The control strategy must be able to drive all the necessary joints to realize the desired movement, and compensate any disturbances to the motion, i.e. muscle fatigue onset as well as the strong nonlinear and time-varying response of the musculoskeletal system to FES [1011]. Consequently, open-loop and simple feedback controllers (e.g. proportional-integral-derivative -PID-) are not robust enough to cope with these disturbances [812]. Meadmore et al. presented a more suitable hybrid robotic system for functional rehabilitation scenarios [13]. They implemented a model-based iterative learning controller (ILC) that adjusts the FES intensity based on the tracking error of the previously executed movement (see [1314] for a detail description of the system). This iterative adjustment allows compensating for disturbances caused by FES. Although this approach addresses some of the issues regarding motion control with FES, it requires a detailed mathematical description of the musculoskeletal system to work properly. In this context, unmodeled dynamics and the linearization of the model can reduce the robustness of the controller performance. Also, the identification of the model’s parameters is complex and time consuming, which limits its applicability in clinical settings [1112].

The Feedback Error Learning (FEL) scheme proposed by Kawato [15] can be considered as an alternative to ILC. This scheme was developed to describe how the central nervous system acquires an internal model of the body to improve the motor control. Under this scheme, the motor control command of a feedback controller is used to train a feedforward controller to learn implicitly the inverse dynamics of the controlled system on-line (i.e. the arm). Complementary, this on-line learning procedure also allows the controller to adapt and compensate for disturbances. In contrast with the ILC, the main advantage of this strategy is that the controller does not require an explicit model of the controlled system to work correctly and that it can directly learn the non-linear characteristic of the controlled system. Therefore, using the FEL control strategy to control a hybrid robotic system can simplify the setup of the system considerably, which makes easier to deploy it in clinical settings as well as personalize its response according to each patient’s musculoskeletal characteristics and movement capabilities. The FEL has been used previously to control the wrist [16] and the lower limb [17] motion with FES in healthy subjects; but it has not been tested on brain injury patients. In a previous pilot study, we partially showed the suitability of the FEL scheme in hybrid robotic systems for reaching rehabilitation with healthy subjects [18]. However, a rigorous and robust analysis has not been presented neither this concept has not been tested with motor impaired patients.

The main objective of this study is to verify the usability of a fully integrated hybrid robotic system based on an FEL scheme for rehabilitation of reaching movement in brain injury patients. To attain such objective two-step experimentation was followed. The first part consists of demonstrating the technical viability and learning capability of the developed FEL controller to drive the execution of a coordinated shoulder-elbow joint movement. The second part consists of testing the usability of the platform with brain injury patients in a more realistic rehabilitation scenario. For this purpose, we assessed the patients’ performance and overall satisfaction and emotional response after using the system.


In this section, we present the hybrid robotic system for the rehabilitation of reaching movement in patients with a brain injury. The system focuses on aiding users to move their paretic arm towards specific distal directions in the space. During the execution of the reaching task, the FEL controller adjusts the intensities of the electrical stimuli delivered to target muscles in order to aid the subjects in tracking accurately the target paths.

Description of the hybrid rehabilitation platform for reaching rehabilitation

Figure 1 shows the general overview of the developed platform. This rehabilitation platform is composed of four main components: the hybrid assistive device (upper limb exoskeleton + FES device); the high-level controller (HLC); the visual feedback and; the user interface. […]

Fig. 1 a General overview of the presented hybrid robotic platform for reaching rehabilitation. bVisual feedback provided to the users. The green ball represents the actual arm position, the blue cross is the reference trajectory, the initial and final position are represented by the gray ball and red square respectively. c Interface for system configuration

Source: Adaptive hybrid robotic system for rehabilitation of reaching movement after a brain injury: a usability study | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

, , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Design and Preliminary Feasibility Study of a Soft Robotic Glove for Hand Function Assistance in Stroke Survivors – Full Text

Various robotic exoskeletons have been proposed for hand function assistance during activities of daily living (ADL) of stroke survivors. However, traditional exoskeletons involve the use of complex rigid systems that impede the natural movement of joints, and thus reduce the wearability and cause discomfort to the user. The objective of this paper is to design and evaluate a soft robotic glove that is able to provide hand function assistance using fabric-reinforced soft pneumatic actuators. These actuators are made of silicone rubber which has an elastic modulus similar to human tissues. Thus, they are intrinsically soft and compliant. Upon air pressurization, they are able to support finger range of motion (ROM) and generate the desired actuation of the finger joints. In this work, the soft actuators were characterized in terms of their blocked tip force, normal and frictional grip force outputs. Combining the soft actuators and flexible textile materials, a soft robotic glove was developed for grasping assistance during ADL for stroke survivors. The glove was evaluated on five healthy participants for its assisted ROM and grip strength. Pilot test was performed in two stroke survivors to evaluate the efficacy of the glove in assisting functional grasping activities. Our results demonstrated that the actuators designed in this study could generate desired force output at a low air pressure. The glove had a high kinematic transparency and did not affect the active ROM of the finger joints when it was being worn by the participants. With the assistance of the glove, the participants were able to perform grasping actions with sufficient assisted ROM and grip strength, without any voluntary effort. Additionally, pilot test on stroke survivors demonstrated that the patient’s grasping performance improved with the presence and assistance of the glove. Patient feedback questionnaires also showed high level of patient satisfaction and comfort. In conclusion, this paper has demonstrated the possibility of using soft wearable exoskeletons that are more wearable, lightweight, and suitable to be used on a daily basis for hand function assistance of stroke survivors during activities of daily living.


The ability to perform basic activities of daily living (ADL) impacts a person’s quality of life and independence (Katz, 1983Andersen et al., 2004). However, an individual’s independence to perform ADLs is jeopardized due to hand motor impairments, which can be observed in patients with neurological disorders such as stroke. In order to improve hand motor functions in terms of strength and range of motion (ROM) (Kutner et al., 2010), stroke survivors undergo rehabilitation programs comprising repetitive practice of simulated ADL tasks (Michaelsen et al., 2006). Normally, patients undergo rehabilitation exercises in a specialized rehabilitation center under the guidance of physiotherapists or occupational therapists. However, due to increasing patient population, it is foreseen that there will be a shortage of physiotherapists to assist in the rehabilitative process. Thus, there will be comparatively less therapy time, which will eventually lead to a slower recovery process for the patients. Over the past decade, technological developments in robotics have facilitated the rehabilitative process and have shown potential to assist patients in their daily life (Maciejasz et al., 2014). One example of such a device is the hand exoskeleton, which is secured around the hand to guide and assist the movement of the encompassed joints. However, due to the complexity of the hand, designing a hand exoskeleton remains a challenging task.

Traditional hand exoskeletons involve the use of rigid linkage-based mechanisms. In this kind of mechanism, rigid components, such as linear actuators, rotary motors, racks, and pinions as well as rigid linkages are normally involved (Worsnopp et al., 2007Rotella et al., 2009Martinez et al., 2010). To assist hand movements that have high degrees of freedom (DOFs), traditional exoskeletons can be incorporated with a substantial number of actuators to achieve the requirement. However, this means that their application is limited due to the increasing bulkiness for higher DOFs. Therefore, these devices are normally restricted in clinical settings and not suitable for performing home therapy. Additionally, their rigidity, weight and constraint on the non-actuated DOFs of the joints pose complications. As a result, the level of comfort and safety of patients is reduced. In view of this, there is an apparent need for the development of exoskeletons that may be used in both clinical and home settings. A lightweight and wearable exoskeleton may allow patients to bring back home to continue daily therapy or to serve as an assistive device for the ADLs.

The development of wearable robotic exoskeletons serves to provide an alternative approach toward addressing this need. Instead of using rigid linkage as an interface between the hand and the actuators, wearable exoskeletons typically utilize flexible materials such as fabric (Sasaki et al., 2004Yap et al., 2016a) and polymer (Kang et al., 2016), driven by compliant actuators such as cables (Sangwook et al., 2014Xiloyannis et al., 2016) and soft inflatable actuators (Polygerinos et al., 2015dYap et al., 2016c). Therefore, they are more compliant and lightweight compared to the rigid linkage-based mechanism. Cable-driven based exoskeletons involve the use of cables that are connected to actuators in the form of electrical motors situated away from the hand (Nilsson et al., 2012Ying and Agrawal, 2012Sangwook et al., 2014Varalta et al., 2014). By providing actuations on both dorsal and palmar sides of the hand, bi-directional cable-driven movements are possible (Kang et al., 2016). These cables mimic the capability of the tendons of the human hand and they are able to transmit the required pulling force to induce finger flexion and extension. However, the friction of the cable, derailment of the tendon, and inaccurate routing of the cable due to different hand dimensions can affect the efficiency of force transmission in the system.

On the other hand, examples of the soft inflatable actuators are McKibben type muscles (Feifei et al., 2006Tadano et al., 2010), sheet-like rubber muscles (Sasaki et al., 2004Kadowaki et al., 2011), and soft elastomeric actuators (Polygerinos et al., 2015b,cYap et al., 2015); amongst which, soft elastomeric actuators have drawn increasing research interest due to their high compliance (Martinez et al., 2013). This approach typically embeds pneumatic chamber networks in elastomeric constructs to achieve different desired motions with pressurized air or water (Martinez et al., 2012). Soft elastomeric actuators are highly customizable. They are able to achieve multiple DOFs and complex motions with a single input, such as fluid pressurization. The design of a wearable hand exoskeleton that utilizes soft elastomeric actuators is usually simple and does not require precise routing for actuation, compared to the cable-driven mechanism. Thus, the design reduces the possibility of misalignment and the setup time. These properties allow the development of hand exoskeletons that are more compliant and wearable, with the ability to provide safe human-robot interaction. Additionally, several studies have demonstrated that compactness and ease of use of an assistive device critically affect its user acceptance (Scherer et al., 20052007). Thus, these exoskeletons provide a greater chance of user acceptance.

Table 1 summarizes the-state-of-art of soft robotic assistive glove driven by inflatable actuators. Several pioneer studies on inflatable assistive glove have been conducted by Sasaki et al. (2004)Kadowaki et al. (2011) and Polygerinos et al. (2015a,b,c). Sasaki et al. have developed a pneumatically actuated power assist glove that utilizes sheet-like curved rubber muscle for hand grasping applications. Polygerinos et al. have designed a hydraulically actuated grip glove that utilizes fiber-reinforced elastomeric actuators that can be mechanically programmed to generate complex motion paths similar to the kinematics of the human finger and thumb. Fiber reinforcement has been proved to be an effective method to constrain the undesired radial expansion of the actuators that does not contribute to effective motion during pressurization. However, this method limits the bending capability of the actuators (Figure S1); as a result, higher pressure is needed to achieve desired bending.

Table 1. Hand assistive exoskeletons driven by inflatable actuators.

Continue —> Frontiers | Design and Preliminary Feasibility Study of a Soft Robotic Glove for Hand Function Assistance in Stroke Survivors | Neuroscience

Figure 1. (A) A fabric-reinforced soft actuators with a corrugated fabric layer and an elastic fabric later [Actuator thickness, T = 12 mm, and length, L = 160 mm (Thumb), 170 mm (Little Finger), 180 mm (Index & Ring Fingers), 185 mm (Middle Finger)]. (B) Upon air pressurization, the corrugated fabric layer unfolds and expands due to the inflation of the embedded pneumatic chamber. Radial budging is constrained when the corrugated fabric layer unfolds fully. The elastic fabric elongates during air pressurization and stores elastic energy. The actuator achieves bending and extending motions at the same time. (C) A bending motion is preferred at the finger joints (II, IV, VI). An extending motion is preferred over the bending motion at the finger segments (I, III, V) and the opisthenar (VII).

, , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] On neuromechanical approaches for the study of biological and robotic grasp and manipulation – Full Text


Biological and robotic grasp and manipulation are undeniably similar at the level of mechanical task performance. However, their underlying fundamental biological vs. engineering mechanisms are, by definition, dramatically different and can even be antithetical. Even our approach to each is diametrically opposite: inductive science for the study of biological systems vs. engineering synthesis for the design and construction of robotic systems. The past 20 years have seen several conceptual advances in both fields and the quest to unify them. Chief among them is the reluctant recognition that their underlying fundamental mechanisms may actually share limited common ground, while exhibiting many fundamental differences. This recognition is particularly liberating because it allows us to resolve and move beyond multiple paradoxes and contradictions that arose from the initial reasonable assumption of a large common ground. Here, we begin by introducing the perspective of neuromechanics, which emphasizes that real-world behavior emerges from the intimate interactions among the physical structure of the system, the mechanical requirements of a task, the feasible neural control actions to produce it, and the ability of the neuromuscular system to adapt through interactions with the environment. This allows us to articulate a succinct overview of a few salient conceptual paradoxes and contradictions regarding under-determined vs. over-determined mechanics, under- vs. over-actuated control, prescribed vs. emergent function, learning vs. implementation vs. adaptation, prescriptive vs. descriptive synergies, and optimal vs. habitual performance. We conclude by presenting open questions and suggesting directions for future research. We hope this frank and open-minded assessment of the state-of-the-art will encourage and guide these communities to continue to interact and make progress in these important areas at the interface of neuromechanics, neuroscience, rehabilitation and robotics.


Grasp and manipulation have captivated the imagination and interest of thinkers of all stripes over the millennia; and with enough reverence to even attribute the intellectual evolution of humans to the capabilities of the hand [123]. Simply put, manipulation function is one of the key elements of our identity as a species (for an overview, see [4]). This is a natural response to the fact that much of our physical and cognitive ability and well-being is intimately tied to the use of our hands. Importantly, we have shaped our tools and environment to match its capabilities (straightforward examples include lever handles, frets in string instruments, and touch-screens). This co-evolution between hand-and-world reinforces the notion that our hands are truly amazing and robust manipulators, as well as rich sensory, perceptual and even social information.

It then comes as no surprise that engineers and physicians have long sought to replicate and restore this functionality in machines—both as appendages to robots and prostheses attached to humans with missing upper limbs [5]. Robotic hands and prostheses have a long and illustrious history, with records of sophisticated articulated hands as early as Gottfried ‘Götz’ von Berlichingen’s iron hand in 1504 [6]. Other efforts [7891011] were often fueled by the injuries of war [12131415] and the Industrial Revolution [16]. The higher survival rate in soldiers who lose upper limbs [1718] and the continual emergence of artificial intelligence [1920] are but the latest impetus. Thus, the past 20 years have seen an explosion in designs, fueled by large scale governmental funding (e.g., DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics and HAPTIX projects, EU’s INPUT and SOFTPRO projects) and private efforts such as DeepMind. A new player in this space is the potentially revolutionary social network of high-quality amateur scientists as exemplified by the FABLAB movement [21]. They are enabled by ubiquitously accessible and inexpensive 3D printing and additive manufacturing tools [22], collaborative design databases ( and others), and communities with formal journals ( and Grassroots communities have also emerged that can, for example, compare and contrast the functionality of prosthetic hands whose price differs by three orders of magnitude (

For all the progress that we have seen, however, (i) robotic platforms remain best at pre-sorted, pick-and-place assembly tasks [23]; and (ii) many prosthetic users still prefer simple designs like the revered whole- or split-hook designs originally developed centuries ago [2425].

Why have robotic and prosthetic hands not come of age? This short review provides a current attempt to tackle this long-standing question in response to the current technological boom in robotic and prosthetic limbs. Similar booms occurred in response to upper limb injuries [25] after the Napoleonic [26], First [12] and Second World Wars [8], and—with the advent of powerful inexpensive computers—in response to industrial and space exploration needs in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s [272829303132]. We argue that a truly bio-inspired approach suffers, by definition, from both gaps in our understanding of the biology, and technical challenges in mimicking (what we understand of) biological sensors, motors and controllers. Although biomimicry is often not the ultimate goal in robotics in general, it is relevant for humanoids and prostheses. Thus, our approach is to clarify when and why a better understanding of the biology of grasp and manipulation would benefit robotic grasping and manipulation.

Similarly, why is our understanding of the nature, function and rehabilitation of biological arms and hands incomplete? Jacob Benignus Winsløw Jacques-Bénigne Winslow, (1669—1760) noted in his Exposition anatomique de la structure du corps humain (1732) that ‘The coordination of the muscles of the live hand will never be understood’ [33]. Interestingly, he is still mostly correct. As commented in detail before [4], there has been much work devoted to inferring the anatomical, physiological, neural and cognitive processes that produce the upper limb function we so dearly appreciate and passionately work to restore following trauma or pathology. We argue, as Galileo Galilei did, that mathematics and engineering have much to contribute to the understanding of biological systems. Without such a ‘mathematical language’ we run the risk, as Galileo put it, of ‘wandering in vain through a dark labyrinth’ [34]. Thus, this short review also attempts to point out important mathematical and engineering developments and advances that have helped our understanding of our hands.

This review first contrasts the fundamental differences between engineering and neuroscience approaches to biological robotic systems. Whereas the former applies engineering principles, the latter relies on scientific inference. We then discuss how the physics of the world provides a common ground between them because both types of systems have similar functional goals, and must abide by the same physical laws. We go on to evaluate how biological and robotic systems implement the necessary sensory and motor functions using the dramatically different anatomy, morphology and mechanisms available to each. This inevitably raises questions about differences in their sensorimotor control strategies. Whereas engineering system can be designed and manufactured to optimize well-defined functional features, biological systems evolve without such strict tautology. Biological systems likely evolve by implementing ecologically and temporally good-enough, sub-optimal or habitual control strategies in response to the current multi-dimensional functional constraints and goals in the presence of competition, variability, uncertainty, and noise. We conclude by exploring the notion that the functional versatility of biological systems that roboticists admire is, in fact, enabled by the very nonlinearities and complexities in anatomy, sensorimotor physiology, and neural function that engineering approaches often seek to avoid. […]

Continue —> On neuromechanical approaches for the study of biological and robotic grasp and manipulation | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

, , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] The Relationship between Poststroke Depression and Upper Limb Recovery in Patients Admitted to a Rehabilitation Unit – Full Text PDF


Objective: We sought to determine the relationship between poststroke depression and upper limb recovery in a cohort of patients admitted to a rehabilitation center in Singapore.

Method: We conducted a secondary analysis of an interventional study of 105 patients with a stroke. Depression was diagnosed using the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and this was correlated with the following measures: Fugl-Meyer Assessment of Upper Limb (FMA), Action Research Am Test (ARAT), Stroke Impact Scale – Upper Limb Items (SIS) and Functional Independence Measure-Selfcare (FIM-Selfcare) at 3, 7 and 15 weeks after admission to rehabilitation.

Results: Poststroke depression was present in 20% of patients on admission to rehabilitation. It was negatively correlated to SIS and FIM-Selfcare at 7 weeks and to FMA, ARAT, SIS and FIM-Selfcare at 15 weeks after rehabilitation admission. Depression on rehabilitation admission did not influence upper limb recovery at 3 weeks, 7 weeks, and 15 weeks after admission to rehabilitation.

Conclusion: Given the negative impact of depression on upper limb impairment, function and performance of selfcare, routine screening of depression should be considered in subacute stroke patients, especially in those with poorer upper limb function.

 Full Text PDF

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[Abstract] Motor Imagery Training After Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials


Background and Purpose: A number of studies have suggested that imagery training (motor imagery [MI]) has value for improving motor function in persons with neurologic conditions. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the available literature related to efficacy of MI in the recovery of individuals after stroke.

Methods: We searched the following databases: PubMed, Web of Knowledge, Scopus, Cochrane, and PEDro. Two reviewers independently selected clinical trials that investigated the effect of MI on outcomes commonly investigated in studies of stroke recovery. Quality and risk of bias of each study were assessed.

Results: Of the 1156 articles found, 32 articles were included. There was a high heterogeneity of protocols among studies. Most studies showed benefits of MI, albeit with a large proportion of low-quality studies. The meta-analysis of all studies, regardless of quality, revealed significant differences on overall analysis for outcomes related to balance, lower limb/gait, and upper limb. However, when only high-quality studies were included, no significant difference was found. On subgroup analyses, MI was associated with balance gains on the Functional Reach Test and improved performance on the Timed Up and Go, gait speed, Action Research Arm Test, and the Fugl-Meyer Upper Limb subscale.

Discussion and Conclusions: Our review reported a high heterogeneity in methodological quality of the studies and conflicting results. More high-quality studies and greater standardization of interventions are needed to determine the value of MI for persons with stroke.

Video Abstract available for more insights from the authors (see Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1,

Source: Motor Imagery Training After Stroke: A Systematic Review an… : Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy

, , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Adapting Tai Chi for Upper Limb Rehabilitation Post Stroke: A Feasibility Study


Background: Tai chi (TC) has been reported as being beneficial for improving balance post stroke, yet its utility in upper limb rehabilitation remains unknown. Methods: Twelve chronic stroke survivors with persistent paresis of an upper limb underwent 60 minutes of adapted TC twice a week for eight weeks, with a 4-week follow up. A 10-min TC home program was recommended for the days without sessions. TC level of performance, attendance to the sessions, duration of self-practice at home, and adapted TC movements used were recorded. Results: Eleven participants completed the study. A clinical reasoning algorithm underlying the adaptation of TC was elaborated throughout the trial. Participants with varying profiles including a severely impaired upper limb, poor balance, shoulder pain, and severe spasticity were not only capable of practicing the adapted TC, but attended all 16 sessions and practiced TC at home for a total of 16.51 ± 9.21 h. The degree of self-practice for subgroups with low upper limb function, shoulder pain, or moderate-to-severe spasticity was similar to that of subgroups with greater upper limb function, no shoulder pain, and minimal-to-no spasticity. Conclusion: Adapted TC seems feasible for upper limb rehabilitation post stroke. Although the study was based on a small sample size and requires confirmation, low upper limb function, insufficient balance, spasticity, and shoulder pain do not appear to hinder the practice of TC.

1. Introduction

Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability among middle-aged and older adults worldwide [1]. Functional impairment of an upper limb is reported in approximately 85% of stroke survivors [2]. The effects of current treatments for arm weakness are shown to be suboptimal [3]. Though upper limb recovery has been found to continue even in the chronic stage [4], long-term rehabilitation services are limited for a large proportion of chronic stroke patients after returning home [5,6]. Therefore, novel and effective approaches are needed to provide timely and ongoing upper limb rehabilitation.
Tai chi is an ancient martial art originating from Chinese healing traditions. Typified by slow and gentle movements, tai chi is an “internal” martial art that cultivates the flow and balance of qi, which is translated as vital energy [7]. The relaxation of body and mind is a main feature which is said to facilitate the flow of qi [8]. Also, tai chi requires well-coordinated sequencing of segments to make the body move as a whole unit to help the flow of qi [9]. Thus, tai chi is a moving form of qigong, which is a practice focusing on cultivation, circulation, and harmonization of qi. To date, tai chi is accepted as a suitable, low impact, home-based exercise option for aged and patients with chronic diseases [10,11,12]. Since tai chi emphasizes slow and continuous weight transfer between the two feet, it has been widely shown as beneficial for improving balance and for fall prevention in the aged [13,14,15].
In recent years, some studies have also reported the benefits of tai chi in improving balance in chronic stroke patients [16,17,18]. However, the use of tai chi in upper limb rehabilitation post stroke remains unknown. Tai chi is not only an exercise of lower limb, but a whole-body exercise. Upper limb muscle strength and flexibility have been shown to improve in the aged following the practice of tai chi [19,20,21]. Tai chi practitioners have also demonstrated better arm movement control and eye–hand coordination in older adults [21,22,23,24]. Furthermore, the relaxation component of tai chi may have the potential to improve the motor function of the paretic upper limb. Therefore, tai chi may be a promising upper limb rehabilitation method.
However, the presence of hemiplegia may be an important barrier to using tai chi for upper limb rehabilitation post stroke, potentially limiting the ability to actually perform upper limb tai chi movements. Similarly, shoulder pain and severe spasticity of the affected arm may impact on the ability to perform tai chi movements. Furthermore, the standing position used in traditional tai chi styles poses difficulties for persons with poor balance. Adapting tai chi to take into account these limitations may need to be included in post-stroke rehabilitation. Although sitting tai chi has been reported to be used in persons with spinal cord injuries to improve muscle strength of the upper limbs [25], little is known about how to adapt tai chi with respect to paretic upper limbs. Moreover, the feasibility of using adapted tai chi movements for upper limb rehabilitation remains unknown.
Therefore, this study aimed to explore the use of adapted tai chi movements for upper limb rehabilitation. More specifically, the objective was to evaluate the feasibility of using adapted tai chi for upper limb rehabilitation post stroke, including: (1) whether the adapted tai chi was performable and acceptable by participants; and (2) whether the potential influencing factors such as impairment level of an upper limb, insufficient balance, shoulder pain, and spasticity constrained the practice of the adapted tai chi. A second objective was to document the clinical reasoning underlying the adaptations made to tai chi based on the participants’ characteristics when used for upper limb rehabilitation post stroke. The efficacy of adapted tai chi has been reported elsewhere [26]. […]

Continue —>  Medicines | Free Full-Text | Adapting Tai Chi for Upper Limb Rehabilitation Post Stroke: A Feasibility Study | HTML

Medicines 04 00072 g001

Figure 1. Individual self-practice hours per month of participants.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[WEB SITE] Robotic-Assisted Rehabilitation Therapy Designed to Aid Stroke Recovery

Pictured here is the experimental setup for the estimation of the 3 DOF human forearm and wrist impedance. (Photo courtesy of UNIST)

Pictured here is the experimental setup for the estimation of the 3 DOF human forearm and wrist impedance. (Photo courtesy of UNIST)

Scientists from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) have developed a new robotic tool to assess muscle overactivity and movement dysfunction in stroke survivors.

They suggest, in a study published recently in IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, that their robotic-assisted rehabilitation therapy may help improve the stroke patients’ mobility.

The study was led by Professor Sang Hoon Kang of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering at UNIST in collaboration with Professor Pyung-Hun Chang of DGIST and Dr Kyungbin Park of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, according to a media release from UNIST.

In their study, Kang and the others on the team developed a rehabilitation robotic system that quantitatively measures the 3 degrees-of-freedom (DOF) impedance of human forearm and wrist in minutes.

Using their impedance estimation device, which they call the distal internal model based impedance control (dIMBIC)-based method, the team was able to accurately characterize the 3 DOF forearm and wrist impedance, including inertia, damping, and stiffness, for the first time, the release continues.

“The dIMBIC-based method can be used to assist in the quantitative and objective evaluation of neurological disorders, like stroke,” Kang says, in the release. “Findings from this study will open a new chapter in robot-assisted rehabilitation in the workplace accident rehabilitation hospitals, as well as in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.”

The research team expects that, in the long run, the proposed 3 DOF impedance estimation may promote wrist and forearm motor control studies and complement the diagnosis of the alteration in wrist and forearm resistance post-stroke by providing objective impedance values including cross-coupled terms, the release concludes.

[Source(s): Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Science Daily]

Source: Robotic-Assisted Rehabilitation Therapy Designed to Aid Stroke Recovery – Rehab Managment

, , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Effect of repetitive wrist extension with electromyography-triggered stimulation after stroke: a preliminary randomized controlled study – Full Text PDF

Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of repetitive wrist extension task training with electromyography (EMG)-triggered neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) for wrist extensor muscle recovery in patients with stroke.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Methods: Fifteen subjects who had suffered a stroke were randomly assigned to an EMG-triggered NMES group (n=8) or control group (n=7); subjects in both groups received conventional therapy as usual. Subjects in the experimental group received application of EMG-triggered NMES to the wrist extensor muscles for 20 minutes, twice per day, five days per week, for a period of four weeks, and were given a task to make a touch alarm go off by activity involving extension of their wrist. In the control group, subjects
performed wrist self-exercises for the same duration and frequency as those in the experimental group. Outcome measures included muscle reaction time and spectrum analysis. Assessments were performed during the pre- and post-treatment periods.

Results: In the EMG-triggered NMES group, faster muscle reaction time was observed, and median frequency also showed improvement, from 68.2 to 75.3 Hz, after training (p<0.05). Muscle reaction time was significantly faster, and median frequency was significantly higher in the experimental group than in the experimental group after training.

Conclusions: EMG-triggered NMES is beneficial for patients with hemiparetic stroke in recovery of upper extremity function.

Download Full Text PDF

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Including a Lower-Extremity Component during Hand-Arm Bimanual Intensive Training does not Attenuate Improvements of the Upper Extremities: A Retrospective Study of Randomized Trials – Full Text

Hand-Arm Bimanual Intensive Therapy (HABIT) promotes hand function using intensive practice of bimanual functional and play tasks. This intervention has shown to be efficacious to improve upper-extremity (UE) function in children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy (USCP). In addition to UE function deficits, lower-extremity (LE) function and UE–LE coordination are also impaired in children with USCP. Recently, a new intervention has been introduced in which the LE is simultaneously engaged during HABIT (Hand-Arm Bimanual Intensive Therapy Including Lower Extremities; HABIT-ILE). Positive effects of this therapy have been demonstrated for both the UE and LE function in children with USCP. However, it is unknown whether the addition of this constant LE component during a bimanual intensive therapy attenuates UE improvements observed in children with USCP. This retrospective study, based on multiple randomized protocols, aims to compare the UE function improvements in children with USCP after HABIT or HABIT-ILE. This study included 86 children with USCP who received 90 h of either HABIT (n = 42) or HABIT-ILE (n = 44) as participants in previous studies. Children were assessed before, after, and 4–6 months after intervention. Primary outcomes were the ABILHAND-Kids and the Assisting Hand Assessment. Secondary measures included the Jebsen-Taylor Test of Hand Function, the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory [(PEDI); only the self-care functional ability domain] and the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM). Data analysis was performed using two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance with repeated measures on test sessions. Both groups showed similar, significant improvements for all tests (test session effect p < 0.001; group × test session interaction p > 0.05) except the PEDI and COPM. Larger improvements on these tests were found for the HABIT-ILE group (test session effect p < 0.001; group × test session interaction p < 0.05). These larger improvements may be explained by the constant simultaneous UE–LE engagement observed during the HABIT-ILE intervention since many daily living activities included in the PEDI and the COPM goals involve the LE and, more specifically, UE–LE coordination. We conclude that UE improvements in children with USCP are not attenuated by simultaneous UE–LE engagement during intensive intervention. In addition, systematic LE engagement during bimanual intensive intervention (HABIT-ILE) leads to larger functional improvements in activities of daily living involving the LE.


Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of pediatric motor disability with a prevalence ranging from 2 to 3.6 out of 1,000 children in western countries (12). Motor disorders are often accompanied by sensation, perception, cognition, behavior, communication, and epilepsy disorders (1). Although the lesions are established from birth and are non-progressive, the motor impairments experienced by children with CP affect their autonomy and functional outcomes during their life-span. Moreover, motor symptoms such as impaired ability to walk may worsen during development (3).

One of the most disabling long-term functional deficits in children with unilateral spastic cerebral palsy (USCP) is impaired manual dexterity, i.e., impaired skilled hand movements and precision grip abilities (4). Upper-extremity (UE) impairments may affect functional independence, especially for activities of daily living requiring bimanual coordination (e.g., buttoning one’s shirt). It is now well known that intensive interventions based on motor skill learning principles and goal-directed training are effective for improving UE function in children with USCP (5). Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) was the first intensive intervention adapted to children with USCP (6). CIMT was first designed for adults with stroke and subsequently adapted to children with USCP showing improvements in hand function (5). Taking advantage of the key ingredient of CIMT (intensive practice with the affected UE), Charles and Gordon developed an alternative intensive bimanual approach termed “Hand-Arm Bimanual Intensive Therapy” (HABIT) (7). HABIT was developed with recognition that the combined use of both hands was necessary to increase functional independence in children with USCP (7). Focusing on improving bimanual coordination through structured play and functional activities during HABIT demonstrated efficacy to improve UE function in children with USCP (5).

Both HABIT and CIMT focus only on the UE of children with USCP. Though the lower extremity (LE) is generally less affected than UE in children with USCP, impairments observed in the affected LE range from an isolated equine ankle to hip flexion and adduction with a fixed knee (8). Children with USCP are then unable to achieve postural symmetry while standing, systematically presenting with an overload on one bodyside (8). They also frequently encounter limitations in walking abilities (3). Besides the LE impairments, UE–LE coordination is often impaired in children with USCP (910). This coordination is frequently used in daily living activities (e.g., walking while carrying an object in the hand, climbing stairs while using the railing). A program that simultaneously trains the UE and LE in children with USCP is thus of interest since the UE impairments in children with CP remain stable through time (11) while walking and other LE abilities may decline during development (3). In 2014, taking advantage of the key ingredients in HABIT (intensive bimanual practice), Bleyenheuft and Gordon developed a new intervention focusing on both the UE and LE entitled “Hand-Arm Bimanual Intensive Therapy Including Lower Extremities” (HABIT-ILE) (12). Positive effects of this therapy focusing on both the UE and LE through structured play and functional activities have been demonstrated both for the UE and the LE of children with USCP (13) as well as, more recently, for children with bilateral CP (14). However, it is unknown whether the introduction of a systematic LE engagement in addition to a bimanual intervention may lead to attenuated improvements in UE compared to traditional HABIT due to shifts in attention (multitasking). This retrospective study aimed to compare changes in the UE of children with USCP undergoing 90 h of intensive bimanual intervention either with (HABIT-ILE) or without (HABIT) a LE component. We hypothesized that the introduction of systematic LE training simultaneously added to the bimanual training would lead to reduced improvements in the UE during HABIT-ILE compared to traditional HABIT. […]

Continue —> Frontiers | Including a Lower-Extremity Component during Hand-Arm Bimanual Intensive Training does not Attenuate Improvements of the Upper Extremities: A Retrospective Study of Randomized Trials | Neurology

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: