Examining Differences in Patterns of Sensory and Motor Recovery After Stroke With Robotics

Stroke. 2015 Dec;46(12):3459-69. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.010750. Epub 2015 Nov 5.


Background and purpose: Developing a better understanding of the trajectory and timing of stroke recovery is critical for developing patient-centered rehabilitation approaches. Here, we quantified proprioceptive and motor deficits using robotic technology during the first 6 months post stroke to characterize timing and patterns in recovery. We also make comparisons of robotic assessments to traditional clinical measures.

Methods: One hundred sixteen subjects with unilateral stroke were studied at 4 time points: 1, 6, 12, and 26 weeks post stroke. Subjects performed robotic assessments of proprioceptive (position sense and kinesthesia) and motor function (unilateral reaching task and bimanual object hit task), as well as several clinical measures (Functional Independence Measure, Purdue Pegboard, and Chedoke-McMaster Stroke Assessment).

Results: One week post stroke, many subjects displayed proprioceptive (48% position sense and 68% kinesthesia) and motor impairments (80% unilateral reaching and 85% bilateral movement). Interindividual recovery on robotic measures was highly variable. However, we characterized recovery as early (normal by 6 weeks post stroke), late (normal by 26 weeks post stroke), or incomplete (impaired at 26 weeks post stroke). Proprioceptive and motor recovery often followed different timelines. Across all time points, robotic measures were correlated with clinical measures.

Conclusions: These results highlight the need for more sensitive, targeted identification of sensory and motor deficits to optimize rehabilitation after stroke. Furthermore, the trajectory of recovery for some individuals with mild to moderate stroke may be much longer than previously considered.

Keywords: movement; proprioception; rehabilitation; robotics; stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Robotics / methods*
  • Robotics / statistics & numerical data
  • Stroke / diagnosis*
  • Stroke / physiopathology