Background: We used MIT-Manus, a robot designed to provide interactive, goal-directed motor activity for clinical neurologic applications.
Objective: To test whether this robotic manipulation of the impaired limb influenced motor recovery in patients with hemiplegia.
Methods: Sequential patients with a history of a single stroke and hemiplegia (N = 20) hospitalized on the same acute care rehabilitation floor were enrolled in a standard rehabilitation program supplemented by either robot-aided therapy or sham robot-aided therapy. These 2 groups were comparable in age, initial physical impairment, and time between onset of the stroke and enrollment in the trial. Patients, clinical team members, and the clinical evaluator were blinded to the treatment group assignments. Standardized assessment tools measured outcomes.
Results: Impairment and disability declined in both groups between hospital admission and discharge. The robot-treated group showed a greater degree of improvement in all 3 measures of motor recovery, and the change in motor status measured in the proximal upper limb musculature was significant (P = .002). No adverse events resulted from robot-assisted therapy.
Conclusions: These results suggest that robotic manipulation of the impaired limb may favorably add to recovery following stroke and that robotics may provide new strategies for neurologic rehabilitation.