Skip to Main Content
This paper presents two robot devices for use in the rehabilitation of upper limb movements and reports the quantitative parameters obtained to characterize the rate of improvement, thus allowing a precise monitoring of patient's recovery. A one degree of freedom (DoF) wrist manipulator and a two-DoF elbow-shoulder manipulator were designed using an admittance control strategy; if the patient could not move the handle, the devices completed the motor task. Two groups of chronic post-stroke patients (G1 n=7, and G2 n=9) were enrolled in a three week rehabilitation program including standard physical therapy (45 min daily) plus treatment by means of robot devices, respectively, for wrist and elbow-shoulder movements (40 min, twice daily). Both groups were evaluated by means of standard clinical assessment scales and a new robot measured evaluation metrics that included an active movement index quantifying the patient's ability to execute the assigned motor task without robot assistance, the mean velocity, and a movement accuracy index measuring the distance of the executed path from the theoretic one. After treatment, both groups improved their motor deficit and disability. In G1, there was a significant change in the clinical scale values (p<0.05) and range of motion wrist extension (p<0.02). G2 showed a significant change in clinical scales (p<0.01), in strength (p<0.05) and in the robot measured parameters (p<0.01). The relationship between robot measured parameters and the clinical assessment scales showed a moderate and significant correlation (r>0.53 p<0.03). Our findings suggest that robot-aided neurorehabilitation may improve the motor outcome and disability of chronic post-stroke patients. The new robot measured parameters may provide useful information about the course of treatment and its effectiveness at discharge.