Background: Neurological injuries cause persistent upper extremity motor deficits. Device-assisted therapy is an emerging trend in neuro-rehabilitation as it offers high intensity, repetitive practice in a standardized setting.
Objective: To investigate the effects of therapy duration and staff-participant configuration on device-assisted upper limb therapy outcomes in individuals with chronic paresis.
Methods: Forty-seven participants with chronic upper extremity weakness due to neurological injury were assigned to a therapy duration (30 or 60 min) and a staff-participant configuration (1-to-1 or 1-to-2). Therapy consisted of 3 sessions a week for 6 weeks using the Armeo®Spring device. Clinical assessments were performed at three timepoints (Pre, Post, and 3 month Follow up).
Results: Improvements in upper limb impairment, measured by change in Fugl-Meyer score (FM), were observed following therapy in all groups. FM improvement was comparable between 30 and 60 min sessions, but participants in the 1-to-2 group had significantly greater improvement in FM from Pre-to-Post and from Pre-to-Follow up than the 1-to-1 group.
Conclusions: Device-assisted therapy can reduce upper limb impairment to a similar degree whether participants received 30 or 60 min per session. Our results suggest that delivering therapy in a 1-to-2 configuration is a feasible and more effective approach than traditional 1-to-1 staffing.
Keywords: Device-assisted therapy; chronic hemiparesis; group therapy; motor recovery; neurological rehabilitation.