Posts Tagged Global Health

[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


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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[ARTICLE] Technology-assisted stroke rehabilitation in Mexico: a pilot randomized trial comparing traditional therapy to circuit training in a Robot/technology-assisted therapy gym – Full Text



Stroke rehabilitation in low- and middle-income countries, such as Mexico, is often hampered by lack of clinical resources and funding. To provide a cost-effective solution for comprehensive post-stroke rehabilitation that can alleviate the need for one-on-one physical or occupational therapy, in lower and upper extremities, we proposed and implemented a technology-assisted rehabilitation gymnasium in Chihuahua, Mexico. The Gymnasium for Robotic Rehabilitation (Robot Gym) consisted of low- and high-tech systems for upper and lower limb rehabilitation. Our hypothesis is that the Robot Gym can provide a cost- and labor-efficient alternative for post-stroke rehabilitation, while being more or as effective as traditional physical and occupational therapy approaches.


A typical group of stroke patients was randomly allocated to an intervention (n = 10) or a control group (n = 10). The intervention group received rehabilitation using the devices in the Robot Gym, whereas the control group (n = 10) received time-matched standard care. All of the study subjects were subjected to 24 two-hour therapy sessions over a period of 6 to 8 weeks. Several clinical assessments tests for upper and lower extremities were used to evaluate motor function pre- and post-intervention. A cost analysis was done to compare the cost effectiveness for both therapies.


No significant differences were observed when comparing the results of the pre-intervention Mini-mental, Brunnstrom Test, and Geriatric Depression Scale Test, showing that both groups were functionally similar prior to the intervention. Although, both training groups were functionally equivalent, they had a significant age difference. The results of all of the upper extremity tests showed an improvement in function in both groups with no statistically significant differences between the groups. The Fugl-Meyer and the 10 Meters Walk lower extremity tests showed greater improvement in the intervention group compared to the control group. On the Time Up and Go Test, no statistically significant differences were observed pre- and post-intervention when comparing the control and the intervention groups. For the 6 Minute Walk Test, both groups presented a statistically significant difference pre- and post-intervention, showing progress in their performance. The robot gym therapy was more cost-effective than the traditional one-to-one therapy used during this study in that it enabled therapist to train up to 1.5 to 6 times more patients for the approximately same cost in the long term.


The results of this study showed that the patients that received therapy using the Robot Gym had enhanced functionality in the upper extremity tests similar to patients in the control group. In the lower extremity tests, the intervention patients showed more improvement than those subjected to traditional therapy. These results support that the Robot Gym can be as effective as traditional therapy for stroke patients, presenting a more cost- and labor-efficient option for countries with scarce clinical resources and funding.

Fig. 1 Distribution of the stations inside facility at CREE Chihuahua. Beginning by the door, clockwise, is: the Theradrive system in the first station; the Ness for upper extremity in the second station; the Ness for lower extremity in the third station; the Motomed Viva 2 for upper extremities in the fourth station; the Motomed Viva 2 for lower extremities in the fifth station; and Capitain’s Log Brain-trainer in the sixth station

Continue —> Technology-assisted stroke rehabilitation in Mexico: a pilot randomized trial comparing traditional therapy to circuit training in a Robot/technology-assisted therapy gym | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text


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