Effect of gravity on robot-assisted motor training after chronic stroke: a randomized trial

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2011 Nov;92(11):1754-61. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2011.06.016. Epub 2011 Aug 17.


Objectives: To determine the efficacy of 2 distinct 6-week robot-assisted reaching programs compared with an intensive conventional arm exercise program (ICAE) for chronic, stroke-related upper-extremity (UE) impairment. To examine whether the addition of robot-assisted training out of the horizontal plane leads to improved outcomes.

Design: Randomized controlled trial, single-blinded, with 12-week follow-up.

Setting: Research setting in a large medical center.

Participants: Adults (N=62) with chronic, stroke-related arm weakness stratified by impairment severity using baseline UE motor assessments.

Interventions: Sixty minutes, 3 times a week for 6 weeks of robot-assisted planar reaching (gravity compensated), combined planar with vertical robot-assisted reaching, or intensive conventional arm exercise program.

Main outcome measure: UE Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA) mean change from baseline to final training.

Results: All groups showed modest gains in the FMA from baseline to final with no significant between group differences. Most change occurred in the planar robot group (mean change ± SD, 2.94 ± 0.77; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.40-4.47). Participants with greater motor impairment (n=41) demonstrated a larger difference in response (mean change ± SD, 2.29 ± 0.72; 95% CI, 0.85-3.72) for planar robot-assisted exercise compared with the intensive conventional arm exercise program (mean change ± SD, 0.43 ± 0.72; 95% CI, -1.00 to 1.86).

Conclusions: Chronic UE deficits because of stroke are responsive to intensive motor task training. However, training outside the horizontal plane in a gravity present environment using a combination of vertical with planar robots was not superior to training with the planar robot alone.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00333983.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arm
  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Gravitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00333983