Robot-Assisted Therapy Somewhat Beneficial in Stroke

Is more effective than usual, not intensive, care at 36 weeks in those with upper-limb impairment
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with upper-limb impairment six months or more after stroke, 12 weeks of robot-assisted therapy does not significantly improve motor function compared with usual care or intensive therapy. After 36 weeks, however, robot-assisted therapy is associated with improved outcomes compared to usual care but not intensive therapy, according to a study published online April 16 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, held from April 10 to 17 in Toronto.

Albert C. Lo, M.D., of the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rhode Island, and colleagues randomly assigned 127 patients with moderate to severe upper-limb impairment to receive intensive robot-assisted therapy, usual care, or intensive care.

At 12 weeks, the researchers found no significant differences between the groups in Fugl-Meyer Assessment of Sensorimotor Recovery after Stroke scores but observed that robot-assisted therapy was associated with significantly better Stroke Impact Scale scores than usual care. At 36 weeks, their secondary analyses showed that robot-assisted therapy was associated with significantly improved Fugl-Meyer scores and the time on the Wolf Motor Function Test compared to usual care but not intensive therapy.

"The study provides evidence of the potential long-term benefits of intensive rehabilitation in patients with moderate to severe impairment even years after a stroke," the authors conclude.

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