Posts Tagged upper extremities

[ARTICLE] Neurotechnology-aided interventions for upper limb motor rehabilitation in severe chronic stroke – Full Text


Upper limb motor deficits in severe stroke survivors often remain unresolved over extended time periods. Novel neurotechnologies have the potential to significantly support upper limb motor restoration in severely impaired stroke individuals. Here, we review recent controlled clinical studies and reviews focusing on the mechanisms of action and effectiveness of single and combined technology-aided interventions for upper limb motor rehabilitation after stroke, including robotics, muscular electrical stimulation, brain stimulation and brain computer/machine interfaces. We aim at identifying possible guidance for the optimal use of these new technologies to enhance upper limb motor recovery especially in severe chronic stroke patients. We found that the current literature does not provide enough evidence to support strict guidelines, because of the variability of the procedures for each intervention and of the heterogeneity of the stroke population. The present results confirm that neurotechnology-aided upper limb rehabilitation is promising for severe chronic stroke patients, but the combination of interventions often lacks understanding of single intervention mechanisms of action, which may not reflect the summation of single intervention’s effectiveness. Stroke rehabilitation is a long and complex process, and one single intervention administrated in a short time interval cannot have a large impact for motor recovery, especially in severely impaired patients. To design personalized interventions combining or proposing different interventions in sequence, it is necessary to have an excellent understanding of the mechanisms determining the effectiveness of a single treatment in this heterogeneous population of stroke patients. We encourage the identification of objective biomarkers for stroke recovery for patients’ stratification and to tailor treatments. Furthermore, the advantage of longitudinal personalized trial designs compared to classical double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials as the basis for precise personalized stroke rehabilitation medicine is discussed. Finally, we also promote the necessary conceptual change from ‘one-suits-all’ treatments within in-patient clinical rehabilitation set-ups towards personalized home-based treatment strategies, by adopting novel technologies merging rehabilitation and motor assistance, including implantable ones.


Stroke constitutes a major public health problem affecting millions of people worldwide with considerable impacts on socio-economics and health-related costs. It is the second cause of death (Langhorne et al., 2011), and the third cause of disability-adjusted life-years worldwide (Feigin et al., 2014): ∼8.2 million people were affected by stroke in Europe in 2010, with a total cost of ∼€64 billion per year (Olesen et al., 2012). Due to ageing societies, these numbers might still rise, estimated to increase 1.5–2-fold from 2010 to 2030 (Feigin et al., 2014).

Improving upper limb functioning is a major therapeutic target in stroke rehabilitation (Pollock et al., 2014Veerbeek et al., 2017) to maximize patients’ functional recovery and reduce long-term disability (Nichols-Larsen et al., 2005Veerbeek et al., 2011Pollock et al., 2014). Motor impairment of the upper limb occurs in 73–88% first time stroke survivors and in 55–75% of chronic stroke patients (Lawrence et al., 2001). Constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT), but also standard occupational practice, virtual reality and brain stimulation-based interventions for sensory and motor impairments show positive rehabilitative effects in mildly and moderately impaired stroke victims (Pollock et al., 2014Raffin and Hummel, 2018). However, stroke survivors with severe motor deficits are often excluded from these therapeutic approaches as their deficit does not allow easily rehabilitative motor training (e.g. CIMT), treatment effects are negligible and recovery unpredictable (Byblow et al., 2015Wuwei et al., 2015Buch et al., 2016Guggisberg et al., 2017).

Recent neurotechnology-supported interventions offer the opportunity to deliver high-intensity motor training to stroke victims with severe motor impairments (Sivan et al., 2011). Robotics, muscular electrical stimulation, brain stimulation, brain computer/machine interfaces (BCI/BMI) can support upper limb motor restoration including hand and arm movements and induce neuro-plastic changes within the motor network (Mrachacz-Kersting et al., 2016Biasiucci et al., 2018).

The main hurdle for an improvement of the status quo of stroke rehabilitation is the fragmentary knowledge about the physiological, psychological and social mechanisms, their interplay and how they impact on functional brain reorganization and stroke recovery. Positive stimulating and negatively blocking adaptive brain reorganization factors are insufficiently characterized except from some more or less trivial determinants, such as number and time of treatment sessions, pointing towards the more the better (Kwakkel et al., 1997). Even the long accepted model of detrimental interhemispheric inhibition of the overactive contralesional brain hemisphere on the ipsilesional hemisphere is based on an oversimplification and lack of differential knowledge and is thus called into question (Hummel et al., 2008Krakauer and Carmichael, 2017Morishita and Hummel, 2017).

Here, we take a pragmatic approach of comparing effectiveness data, keeping this lack of knowledge of mechanisms in mind and providing novel ideas towards precision medicine-based approaches to individually tailor treatments to the characteristics and needs of the individual patient with severe chronic stroke to maximize rehabilitative outcome.[…]

Continue —>   Neurotechnology-aided interventions for upper limb motor rehabilitation in severe chronic stroke | Brain | Oxford Academic

Conceptualization of longitudinal personalized rehabilitation-treatment designs for patients with severe chronic stroke. Ideally, each patient with severe chronic stroke with a stable motor recovery could be stratified based on objective biomarkers of stroke recovery in order to select the most appropriate/promising neurotechnology-aided interventions and/or their combination for the specific case. Then, these interventions can be administered in the clinic and/or at home in sequence, moving from one to another only when patient’s motor recovery plateaus. In this way, comparisons of the efficacy of each intervention (grey arrows) are still possible, and if the selected interventions and/or their combination are suitable, motor recovery could increase.

Conceptualization of longitudinal personalized rehabilitation-treatment designs for patients with severe chronic stroke. Ideally, each patient with severe chronic stroke with a stable motor recovery could be stratified based on objective biomarkers of stroke recovery in order to select the most appropriate/promising neurotechnology-aided interventions and/or their combination for the specific case. Then, these interventions can be administered in the clinic and/or at home in sequence, moving from one to another only when patient’s motor recovery plateaus. In this way, comparisons of the efficacy of each intervention (grey arrows) are still possible, and if the selected interventions and/or their combination are suitable, motor recovery could increase.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[WEB SITE] Neurotechnology-Aided Rehab Holds Promise for Chronic Stroke Patients

Published on 


Personalized neurotechnology-aided rehabilitation of the arm could improve recovery in severe chronic stroke patients, according to a study published recently in the journal Brain.

Neurotechnology-based therapies, including brain-machine interfaces, robotics, and brain stimulation among others, will lead to largest treatment effects and success if they are tailored to the needs of individual patients, and used in combination, according to the authors from the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, University of Geneva Faculty of Medicine and Clinique Romande de Réadaptation.

In their study, they call for longitudinal clinical studies to show the rehabilitation benefits of individual therapies as well as the use of multiple complementary therapies used in combination over long time periods.

“Our findings show that neurotechnology-aided upper limb rehabilitation is promising for severe chronic stroke patients,” says lead author Dr. Martina Coscia, Staff Engineer at the Wyss Center, in a media release.

“However, we also found that the ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t lead to the best outcome. We suggest a move towards a personalized combination of neurotechnology-based stroke rehabilitation therapies, ideally in a home-based environment where prolonged therapy is more feasible than in a clinic.

“We believe that by sequentially introducing stroke therapies according to individual progress, we could allow patients to continue their recovery beyond what is possible today.”

One of the most common consequences of stroke is impaired upper arm function, which has a direct impact on daily tasks and quality of life. Rehabilitation therapies generally have the largest effect in the first three months after stroke. After this time, patients are considered chronic and the likelihood of further natural recovery is limited; this is especially true for those most severely affected.

“What we would like to see in the future are long-term trials in which multiple neurotechnology-based therapies are used within the same patient,”  Professor Friedhelm Hummel from EPFL (Director, Defitech Chair of Clinical Neuroengineering) and the University of Geneva Medical School, shares in the release.

“We believe that this synergistic approach could uncover previously undiscovered treatment pathways for chronic stroke patients.”

In their study, the authors compared effectiveness data from 64 clinical studies on upper limb neurotechnology-aided treatments in chronic stroke patients. The interventions analyzed in the paper included robotics, functional electrical stimulation of muscles, brain stimulation, and brain-computer interfaces as well as their use in combination.

The interdisciplinary research team is now starting a clinical trial to test these ideas. The trial uses a new experimental design with a personalized therapy approach using brain-computer interfaces, robotics, functional electrical stimulation, and brain stimulation specifically chosen to maximize treatment effects in each individual patient. The goal is to keep incrementally improving recovery by using new personalized, neurotechnology-based therapies in combination. The trial will start in Switzerland in summer 2019.

[Source(s): Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering, Science Daily]


via Neurotechnology-Aided Rehab Holds Promise for Chronic Stroke Patients – Rehab Managment

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Improving Hand Function of Severely Impaired Chronic Hemiparetic Stroke Individuals Using Task-Specific Training With the ReIn-Hand System: A Case Series – Full Text


Purpose: In this study, we explored whether improved hand function is possible in poststroke chronic hemiparetic individuals with severe upper limb motor impairments when they participate in device-aided task-specific practice.

Subjects: Eight participants suffering from chronic stroke (>1-year poststroke, mean: 11.2 years) with severely impaired upper extremity movement (Upper Extremity Subscale of the Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment (UEFMA) score between 10 and 24) participated in this study.

Methods: Subjects were recruited to participate in a 20-session intervention (3 sessions/7 weeks). During each session, participants performed 20–30 trials of reaching, grasping, retrieving, and releasing a jar with the assistance of a novel electromyography-driven functional electrical stimulation (EMG-FES) system.

This EMG-FES system allows for Reliable and Intuitive use of the Hand (called ReIn-Hand device) during multi-joint arm movements. Pre-, post-, and 3-month follow-up outcome assessments included the UEFMA, Cherokee McMaster Stroke Assessment, grip dynamometry, Box and Blocks Test (BBT), goniometric assessment of active and passive ranges of motion (ROMs) of the wrist and the metacarpophalangeal flexion and extension (II, V fingers), Nottingham Sensory Assessment–Stereognosis portion (NSA), and Cutaneous Sensory Touch Threshold Assessment.

Results: A nonparametric Friedman test of differences found significant changes in the BBT scores (χ2 = 10.38, p < 0.05), the passive and active ROMs (χ2 = 11.31, p < 0.05 and χ2 = 12.45, p < 0.01, respectively), and the NSA scores (χ2 = 6.42, p < 0.05) following a multi-session intervention using the ReIn-Hand device.

Conclusions: These results suggest that using the ReIn-Hand device during reaching and grasping activities may contribute to improvements in gross motor function and sensation (stereognosis) in individuals with chronic severe UE motor impairment following stroke.


Stroke is the second most common cause of mortality and the third most common cause of disability worldwide (12). More than two-thirds of people who have had a stroke have difficulties with arm function, which contributes considerably in limiting the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) (34). Though various studies have reported positive outcomes following multiple types of interventions in more mildly impaired individuals (56), regaining hand function in individuals with moderate-to-severe impairments still remains a challenge. This is largely due to impairments, such as the loss of volitional finger extension (78), muscle coactivation (7), involuntary coupling of wrist and finger flexion with certain shoulder and elbow movements (9), and somatosensory deficits (10).

Several studies have suggested that repetitive task-specific training can improve upper extremity (UE) function (1114) in mildly impaired stroke survivors when the practice is functionally relevant and of sufficient intensity. Intervention-induced gains have been reported for up to 6 months after intervention (15). In particular, interventions focusing on reach and grasp movements have been shown to be relevant because these movements are essential for ADLs and are viewed by subjects as high priority rehabilitative goals (1617). This approach has often been used in individuals in both the acute and subacute stage (1820) and with mild-to-moderate impairments after stroke (61821).

There is limited research targeting chronic stroke individuals with severely impaired UE. These individuals are less able to participate in task-specific training because of minimal volitional activation of the impaired arm (16). Furthermore, during ADLs, concurrent use of hand and arm are required. However, the presence of the flexion synergy after stroke (2224), coupled with shoulder abduction with elbow/wrist and fingers flexion (9), decreases the ability to generate volitional or functional electrical stimulation (FES)-assisted finger extension while lifting against gravity (2526). This creates a major challenge to rehabilitation clinicians and limits opportunities for this population to participate in programs focused on hand recovery (16).

The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of device-assisted task-specific training on hand motor function and sensation (stereognosis and cutaneous sensory touch threshold) in individuals with chronic stroke and severe UE impairment. An electromyography-driven functional electrical stimulation (EMG-FES) with an intelligent detection software that detects the hand opening intention even with the presence of flexion synergies was used to assist the hand opening while subjects were performing required reaching and grasping tasks. We expected that by training a functional activity that involves arm-lifting, reaching and grasping, retrieving and releasing, poststroke participants with severely impaired UE would improve their arm/hand motor function and sensation.

Some parts of the results from various assessments [i.e., pre- to post-changes in an active range of motion (AROM) and Box and Blocks Test (BBT)] have been briefly reported in a previous publication (27) that focused on brain plasticity introduced by this ReIn-Hand assisted reaching and grasping intervention. Compared to the previous publication, this paper provides a complete overall report on various intervention-induced clinical changes.[…]


Continue —> Frontiers | Improving Hand Function of Severely Impaired Chronic Hemiparetic Stroke Individuals Using Task-Specific Training With the ReIn-Hand System: A Case Series | Neurology

Figure 1. Rein-Hand device and the experimental set up. FES parameters: Amplitude sufficient for maximal hand opening without discomfort, biphasic waveform, frequency 50 Hz ± 20%, and 300 μs pulse width, and duration time 3 s. Adapted from Wilkins et al. (27).

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Robotic Arm with Brain – Computer Interfacing – Full Text PDF


Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI), is a modern technology which is currently revolutionizing the field of signal processing. BCI helped in the evolution of a new world where man and computer had never been so close. Advancements in cognitive neuro-sciences facilitated us with better brain imaging techniques and thus interfaces between machines and the human brain became a reality. Electroencephalography (EEG), which is the measurement and recording of electric signals using sensors arrayed across the scalp can be used for applications like prosthetic devices, applications in warfare, gaming, virtual reality and robotics upon signal conditioning and processing.

This paper is entirely based on Brain-Computer Interface with an objective of actuating a robotic arm with the help of device commands derived from EEG signals. This system unlike any other existing technology is purely non-invasive in nature, cost effective and is one of its kinds that can serve various requirements such as prosthesis. This paper suggests a low cost system implementation that can even serve as a reliable substitute for the existing technologies of prosthesis like BIONICS. […]

via Robotic Arm with Brain – Computer Interfacing – ScienceDirect

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[WEB SITE] ‘Motivating alternative’: Virtual reality therapy just as effective as regular therapy after stroke.

Image: via Shutterstock

USING VIRTUAL REALITY therapy to improve arm and hand movement after a stroke is equally as effective as regular therapy, new research has found.

“Virtual reality training may be a motivating alternative for people to use as a supplement to their standard therapy after a stroke,” study author Irish Brunner of Aarhus University said.

The study, published in Neurology, involved 120 people with an average age of 62 who had suffered a stroke on average about a month before the study started.

Each participant had a mild to severe muscle weakness about a month before the study started. All participants had mild to severe muscle weakness or impairment in their wrists, hands or upper arms.

They all received four to five hour-long training sessions per week for four weeks. They also had their harm and hand functions tested at the beginning of the study after the training ended and again three months after the study had begun.

Half of the participants had received standard physical and occupational therapy. Meanwhile, the other had virtual reality training that was designed for rehabilitation and could be adapted to the person’s abilities.

Those doing the virtual reality training used a screen and gloves with sensors to play several games that incorporated arm, hand and finger movements.

“Both groups had substantial improvement in their functioning, but there was no difference between the two groups in the results,” Brunner said.

These results suggest that either type of training could be used, depending on what the patient prefers.

Brunner noted that the virtual reality system was not an immersive experience.

“We can only speculate whether using virtual reality goggles or other techniques to create a more immersive experience would increase the effect of the training.”

via ‘Motivating alternative’: Virtual reality therapy just as effective as regular therapy after stroke

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Movement Therapy of the Upper Extremities with a Robotic Ball in Stroke Patients: Results of a Randomized Controlled Crossover Study – Full Text


Background Stroke is associated with motor impairments of the upper extremities. The defining goal of rehabilitation is independent execution of activities of daily living. New therapy procedures use different hardware components to implement digital therapy contents. These can be useful complements to established therapy protocols.

Objectives The aim of this study was to examine the effect of movement therapy with a robotic ball on motor function parameters in stroke patients.

Materials and Methods 25 patients (60.0±10.0 years, 172.5±13.8 cm, 79.5±13.8 kg, 89.8±72.6 months post-stroke) took part in this crossover study. The intervention and control periods comprised 12 weeks each. Training with the robotic ball was done in addition to standard therapy two times a week for 45 min each. Different game activities were carried out with the help of a tablet and a smartphone.

Results Isometric grip strength improved by 4.5±3.6 kg (p=0.000), and unilateral dexterity increased by 7.5±6.3 successful tries (p=0.000) in the round block test. The self-reported disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand were assessed using the QuickDASH questionnaire and showed improvements by 12.4±13.0 points (p=0.001).

Conclusions Additional therapy using the robotic ball improved upper extremity motor function and self-perceived health status in chronic stroke patients. However, performance stagnated when standard therapy was implemented alone. Moderately affected patients seem to benefit the most. The presence of very severe motor or cognitive symptoms led, in part, to some dropouts. The results need to be verified using larger patient populations.


In Germany, up to 75% of the approx. 196,000 initial and 66,000 repeated strokes are survived [1] [2] [3] [4]. For the affected patients, it is often the trigger for persistent physical limitations, which in 85% of the cases are manifested by the cardinal symptom of spastic or flaccid hemiparesis of the upper extremities. Restriction or even loss of function of the hand and arm drastically impacts the daily life of the affected individual [1] [5] [6] [7]. Demographic change has increased the incidence of stroke. Improved acute care has enabled more people to survive the event, resulting in a greater number of patients and a growing demand for therapy [1] [2] [6]. Reduced range of motion, pain, sensory disturbances and increased muscle tone are characteristic patient symptoms [8] [9]. Loss of arm function is the consequence in about half of stroke cases [8], unlike rehabilitation of independent mobility, which can be achieved in up to 85% of patients [10]. Consequently, relatively less time is devoted to recovery of hand and arm function [11]. In addition to effects on motor function there are often psychological and social consequences [12]. A variety of physical activity measures should contribute to the compensation and restoration of skills and abilities [13] [14]. Since it is still possible to make progress even weeks after a stroke, it is imperative to develop more effective therapeutic methods, especially in the case of sustained loss of upper extremity function [8]. Thus the severity and location of the cerebral insult as well as comorbidities are decisive for the further rehabilitation process [15] [16]. The success of Constraint-induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) [7] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] demonstrates the necessity and possible benefit of using the upper extremities during training and everyday life.

In this context as well as due to innovative developments in technology-supported concepts and components [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] in the field of stroke rehabilitation such as exergaming, [31] [32] [33] [34] the “Sphero 2.0” robotic ball was reviewed in combination with game-playing applications as a supplemental therapeutic activity [35]. The potential benefit for stroke patients regarding improving motor parameters has been documented in review articles on technology-supported therapeutic measures [36] [37]. Hardware and software components from the entertainment industry or telecommunications are used to develop new therapy activities. There are examples of the Microsoft Kinect webcam used in stroke rehabilitation [30] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] as well as for game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii [45] [46] [47], Sony Playstation [48] or Microsoft XBox [44]. In addition, smartphones [34], tablets [49] [50] [51] [52] or virtual reality goggles [53] are being used to employ generally commercially available games with potential therapeutic benefits, or to use their sensor systems for movement detection and control. Therapeutic content can be found in commercial video games such as Wii Sports [54] or Kinect Sports [44] as well as games programmed specifically for therapeutic applications [42] [55]. Their common element is the required use of the affected body half to achieve the respective game objective. The activity can reflect daily activities such as grasping and moving a glass [56], cooking [38], or striking selected piano keys [38] [49]. […]

Continue —> Thieme E-Journals – Neurology International Open / Full Text

Fig. 2 The “Sphero 2.0” robotic ball by Orbotix (Boulder, CO, USA).

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] A composite robotic-based measure of upper limb proprioception – Full Text



Proprioception is the sense of the position and movement of our limbs, and is vital for executing coordinated movements. Proprioceptive disorders are common following stroke, but clinical tests for measuring impairments in proprioception are simple ordinal scales that are unreliable and relatively crude. We developed and validated specific kinematic parameters to quantify proprioception and compared two common metrics, Euclidean and Mahalanobis distances, to combine these parameters into an overall summary score of proprioception.


We used the KINARM robotic exoskeleton to assess proprioception of the upper limb in subjects with stroke (N = 285. Mean days post-stroke = 12 ± 15). Two aspects of proprioception (position sense and kinesthetic sense) were tested using two mirror-matching tasks without vision. The tasks produced 12 parameters to quantify position sense and eight to quantify kinesthesia. The Euclidean and Mahalanobis distances of the z-scores for these parameters were computed each for position sense, kinesthetic sense, and overall proprioceptive function (average score of position and kinesthetic sense).


A high proportion of stroke subjects were impaired on position matching (57%), kinesthetic matching (65%), and overall proprioception (62%). Robotic tasks were significantly correlated with clinical measures of upper extremity proprioception, motor impairment, and overall functional independence. Composite scores derived from the Euclidean distance and Mahalanobis distance showed strong content validity as they were highly correlated (r = 0.97–0.99).


We have outlined a composite measure of upper extremity proprioception to provide a single continuous outcome measure of proprioceptive function for use in clinical trials of rehabilitation. Multiple aspects of proprioception including sense of position, direction, speed, and amplitude of movement were incorporated into this measure. Despite similarities in the scores obtained with these two distance metrics, the Mahalanobis distance was preferred.


Stroke is heterogeneous, affecting sensory, motor, and cognitive functions that are required for daily activities. While there are well validated tools to assess motor and speech functions (eg. Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA) [1], the National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) [2], Chedoke-McMaster Stroke Assessment Impairment Inventory (CMSA) [3]) the use of high quality, validated assessment tools for measuring sensory function post-stroke (proprioception in particular) is limited [4], and there is still a lack of a gold standard assessment. While the FMA and NIHSS have sensory components to the assessment, they are seldom used as a sole measure of sensory impairment in research studies focused on sensation as they are based on relatively coarse scales. Yet, sensory and proprioceptive impairments have a significant negative impact on functional recovery following stroke [56789]. Individuals with sensory and motor impairments, compared to those with just motor impairments, have longer lengths of hospitalization and fewer discharges home [101112]. Furthermore, it has recently been shown that motor and proprioceptive impairments can occur independently after stroke [13].

Some commonly used clinical assessments of proprioception post-stroke include: 1) simple passive limb movement detection test [14] in which an examiner moves a subject’s limb segment with their eyes closed, and subjects are asked to say which direction the limb was moved; 2) the Revised Nottingham Sensory Assessment [1516] in which the subject is asked to mirror match the movement of a passively moved limb by a therapist; and 3) the Thumb Localizing Test [17] which involves passive movement of a subject’s arm and hand to a random position overhead, and is followed by subjects reaching to grasp their thumb with the opposite (less affected) hand. These assessments are scored crudely as normal, slightly impaired, or absent, and lack the sensitivity to detect smaller changes in proprioceptive function in part due to poor inter- and intrarater reliability [1819]. Therefore, establishing an objective and reproducible method to assess proprioceptive impairments post-stroke is vital to evaluating the efficacy of different treatments.

Other more advanced methods to assess proprioception have been developed [20212223], with many using robotic technology to measure the kinematics of an individual’s movements. Assessment devices can now measure position sense and kinesthetic impairments after stroke using arm contralateral matching [13242526], in which a subject’s affected arm is passively moved by the robot to a position, and the subject mirror-matches the movement/position with their less affected limb. Another paradigm involves passive movement of a subject’s limb to a specified position, returning the limb to the starting position, and then having subjects actively move the same arm to this remembered position [2126]. This method has an advantage in that it does not require interhemispheric transfer of information, but has limited value in assessing people with concurrent motor deficits, or in assessing kinematic aspects of proprioception, such movement speed and amplitude perception. Further, results can be confounded by problems with spatial working memory. Threshold for detection of passive movement paradigms have also been used to assess proprioception [2728]. This paradigm eliminates confounds due to motor impairment and interhemispheric transfer of information but again, little information about the kinematics of movement perception (e.g. speed or direction) are gained from this task, and it typically takes much longer to complete than position/movement matching. Lastly, Carey et al. [20] have developed and validated a wrist position sense test, where a subject’s wrist is moved to a position (wrist flexion or extension) and without vision of the wrist the subject has to use their other arm to move a cursor to the direction the wrist is pointing. This method minimizes confounds due to interhemispheric information transfer and motor deficits, but again does not provide information about kinesthetic impairments.

Many of these assessments are reliable, reproducible, objective, and provide quantitative measures of proprioceptive function in the upper limbs. Dukelow et al. [1324], used a KINARM robot (BKIN Technologies, Kingston, ON), and detailed a contralateral position-matching task for the upper extremities that can measure various aspects of an individual’s position sense including: absolute error, variability in matching positions, systematic shifts in perceived workspace, and perceived contraction or expansion of the workspace. Similarly, Semrau et al. [25] recently detailed a kinesthetic matching task using the KINARM robot that can measure an individual’s ability to mirror-match the speed, direction, and amplitude of a robotically moved limb [825]. These tasks are reliable [24], and provide numerous parameters that describe an individual’s position or kinesthetic sense impairments and can be used to guide a rehabilitation program tailored to the individual. Furthermore, these studies have shown a strong relationship between proprioceptive impairments and functional independence post-stroke, yet proprioceptive impairments are often not addressed in day-to-day therapy. Reliable and quantitative assessment tools are therefore critical for testing the efficacy of rehabilitation treatments, as in clinical rehabilitation trials.

While multiple kinematic parameters can provide a level of exactness around the nature of an individual’s proprioceptive impairments and are helpful for rehabilitation planning, a summary measure is needed for clinical therapeutic trials in rehabilitation. Thus, a single continuous metric of upper limb proprioceptive function that combines all parameters from the position and kinesthetic matching robotic tasks was developed using two common measures of distance, Euclidean distance (EDist) and Mahalanobis distance (MDist) [29]. The EDist was chosen as it is an easily interpretable calculation and considers each parameter independently. It is the square root of the sum of squared distances between data points (i.e. the straight-line distance between two points in three-dimensional space). The MDist is the next measure we used to compare with the EDist. It was chosen because the calculation accounts for correlations between parameters (by using the inverse of the variance-covariance matrix of the data set of interest), therefore preventing the overweighting of correlated parameters in the calculation. It is the distance between a point and the center of a distribution, measured along the major axes of variation (i.e. the standard deviation of an object in more than one dimension) [3031].. Because the kinematic parameters derived from the robotic tasks may demonstrate some degree of correlation with one another [13], the MDist can account for this auto-correlation. Theoretically, it should perform better at identifying stroke subjects who perform abnormally on the tasks and those who have atypical patterns of behavior relative to controls. The MDist is generally preferred over the EDist for multivariable data since it can cope with different structures of data [31].

MDist (or variants of it) has recently been used in other studies when examining reaching movements after stroke [32].. Our primary aim was to examine differences and similarities between two summary scores (EDist and MDist) in their ability to differentiate proprioceptive impairment in individuals with stroke from controls in a large patient sample. We hypothesized that using a composite proprioception score calculated from the Mahalanobis distance would more accurately identify impaired proprioception in individuals with stroke compared to a proprioception score calculated from the Euclidean distance.[…]


Continue —>  A composite robotic-based measure of upper limb proprioception | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text


Fig. 1a KINARM robotic exoskeleton (BKIN Technologies, Kingston, ON, Canda). Subjects are seated in the wheelchair base with arms supported by the arm troughs. b Top-down view of the position matching task. The stroke affected arm was positioned by the robot (black targets, green lines) and subjects were required to mirror-match the target positions with their opposite hand (open targets, blue lines). Nine targets were matched to six times each for a total of 54 trials, presented in pseudorandom order. c Top-down view of an exemplar subject performing one trial of the kinesthetic matching task. The stroke affected arm was moved by the robot between two targets (green lines) and subjects were required to mirror match the speed, direction, and amplitude of movement as soon as they felt the robot move their arm (blue lines). The speed versus time profile represents the temporal aspects of the task, by measuring the response latency (time to initiation of the active arm movement) and peak speed ratio (difference between peak speeds of the passive (green) and active (blue) hands)

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Preparing a neuropediatric upper limb exergame rehabilitation system for home-use: a feasibility study | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

Fig. 1 The portable YouGrabber system. a A patient playing the Airplane game on the portable YouGrabber system. b The complete data glove with sensor-“box”, bending sensors, and vibrating units attached to the size fit neoprene glove. c The complete equipment packed for “take away”



Home-based, computer-enhanced therapy of hand and arm function can complement conventional interventions and increase the amount and intensity of training, without interfering too much with family routines. The objective of the present study was to investigate the feasibility and usability of the new portable version of the YouGrabber® system (YouRehab AG, Zurich, Switzerland) in the home setting.


Fifteen families of children (7 girls, mean age: 11.3y) with neuromotor disorders and affected upper limbs participated. They received instructions and took the system home to train for 2 weeks. After returning it, they answered questions about usability, motivation, and their general opinion of the system (Visual Analogue Scale; 0 indicating worst score, 100 indicating best score; ≤30 not satisfied, 31–69 average, ≥70 satisfied). Furthermore, total pure playtime and number of training sessions were quantified. To prove the usability of the system, number and sort of support requests were logged.


The usability of the system was considered average to satisfying (mean 60.1–93.1). The lowest score was given for the occurrence of technical errors. Parents had to motivate their children to start (mean 66.5) and continue (mean 68.5) with the training. But in general, parents estimated the therapeutic benefit as high (mean 73.1) and the whole system as very good (mean 87.4). Children played on average 7 times during the 2 weeks; total pure playtime was 185 ± 45 min. Especially at the beginning of the trial, systems were very error-prone. Fortunately, we, or the company, solved most problems before the patients took the systems home. Nevertheless, 10 of 15 families contacted us at least once because of technical problems.


Despite that the YouGrabber® is a promising and highly accepted training tool for home-use, currently, it is still error-prone, and the requested support exceeds the support that can be provided by clinical therapists. A technically more robust system, combined with additional attractive games, likely results in higher patient motivation and better compliance. This would reduce the need for parents to motivate their children extrinsically and allow for clinical trials to investigate the effectiveness of the system.


Data glove, Pediatrics ,Neurorehabilitation, Upper extremities ,YouGrabber, Tele-rehabilitation, Game-based, Cerebral palsy, Children and adolescents, Clinical utility, User satisfaction

Continue —>  Preparing a neuropediatric upper limb exergame rehabilitation system for home-use: a feasibility study | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Force control in chronic stroke


  • Post stroke motor impairments involving force control capabilities are devastating.
  • Bimanual motor synergies provide robust data on coordinating forces between hands.
  • Low-force frequency patterns reveal fine motor control strategies in paretic hands.
  • Analyzing both novel approaches advance understanding of post stroke force control.


Force control deficits are common dysfunctions after a stroke. This review concentrates on various force control variables associated with motor impairments and suggests new approaches to quantifying force control production and modulation. Moreover, related neurophysiological mechanisms were addressed to determine variables that affect force control capabilities. Typically, post stroke force control impairments include:

(a) decreased force magnitude and asymmetrical forces between hands,

(b) higher task error,

(c) greater force variability,

(d) increased force regularity, and

(e) greater time-lag between muscular forces.

Recent advances in force control analyses post stroke indicated less bimanual motor synergies and impaired low-force frequency structure.Brain imaging studies demonstrate possible neurophysiological mechanisms underlying force control impairments:

(a) decreased activation in motor areas of the ipsilesional hemisphere,

(b) increased activation in secondary motor areas between hemispheres,

(c) cerebellum involvement absence, and

(d) relatively greater interhemispheric inhibition from the contralesional hemisphere.

Consistent with identifying neurophysiological mechanisms, analyzing bimanual motor synergies as well as low-force frequency structure will advance our understanding of post stroke force control.

via Force control in chronic stroke.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] ReHoblet – A Home-Based Rehabilitation Game on the Tablet – Full Text PDF

Abstract. We present ReHoblet; a physical rehabilitation game on tablets, designed to be used in a residential setting. ReHoblet trains two gross motor movements of the upper limbs by lifting (up-down) and transporting (leftright) the tablet to control a simple platform game. By using its accelerometers and gyroscope, the tablet is capable of detecting movements made by the user and steer the interaction based on this data. A formative evaluation with five Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients and their therapists showed high appreciation for ReHoblet. Patients stated they liked ReHoblet not only to improve their physical abilities, but to train on performing technology-related tasks. Based on the results, we reflect on tablet-based games in home-based rehabilitation…

–> Full Text PDF

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: