Background: Kinesthesia (sense of limb movement) has been extremely difficult to measure objectively, especially in individuals who have survived a stroke. The development of valid and reliable measurements for proprioception is important to developing a better understanding of proprioceptive impairments after stroke and their impact on the ability to perform daily activities. We recently developed a robotic task to evaluate kinesthetic deficits after stroke and found that the majority (~60%) of stroke survivors exhibit significant deficits in kinesthesia within the first 10 days post-stroke. Here we aim to determine the inter-rater reliability of this robotic kinesthetic matching task.
Methods: Twenty-five neurologically intact control subjects and 15 individuals with first-time stroke were evaluated on a robotic kinesthetic matching task (KIN). Subjects sat in a robotic exoskeleton with their arms supported against gravity. In the KIN task, the robot moved the subjects' stroke-affected arm at a preset speed, direction and distance. As soon as subjects felt the robot begin to move their affected arm, they matched the robot movement with the unaffected arm. Subjects were tested in two sessions on the KIN task: initial session and then a second session (within an average of 18.2 ± 13.8 h of the initial session for stroke subjects), which were supervised by different technicians. The task was performed both with and without the use of vision in both sessions. We evaluated intra-class correlations of spatial and temporal parameters derived from the KIN task to determine the reliability of the robotic task.
Results: We evaluated 8 spatial and temporal parameters that quantify kinesthetic behavior. We found that the parameters exhibited moderate to high intra-class correlations between the initial and retest conditions (Range, r-value = [0.53-0.97]).
Conclusions: The robotic KIN task exhibited good inter-rater reliability. This validates the KIN task as a reliable, objective method for quantifying kinesthesia after stroke.
Keywords: Inter-rater reliability; Kinesthesia; Proprioception; Robotics; Sensorimotor; Stroke.