Efficacy of robot-assisted rehabilitation for the functional recovery of the upper limb in post-stroke patients: A randomized controlled study

Giovanni Taveggia, Alberto Borboni, Lorena Salvi, Chiara Mulé, Stefania Fogliaresi, Jorge H. Villafañe, Roberto Casale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: A prompt and effective physical and rehabilitation medicine approach is essential to obtain recovery of an impaired limb to prevent tendon shortening, spasticity and pain. Robot-assisted virtual reality intervention has been shown to be more effective than conventional interventions and achieved greater improvement in upper limb function. AIM: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of robotic-assisted motion and activity in addition to PRM for the rehabilitation of the upper limb in post-stroke inpatients. DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial. SETTING: Departments of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine from three different hospitals (Sarnico, Brescia; Bergamo; Milan). POPULATION: A total of 54 patients and enrolled 23 men and 31 women with post-stroke hemiparesis, aged 18 to 80 years old, enrolled from July 2014 to February 2015. METHODS: Of the 54 enrolled patients, 57% were female (mean age 71±12 years), and all had upper limb function deficit post-stroke. The experimental group received a passive mobilization of the upper limb through the robotic device ARMEO Spring and the control group received PRM for 6 consecutive weeks (5 days/week) in addition to traditional PRM. We assessed the impact on functional recovery (Functional Independence Measure [FIM] scale), strength (Motricity Index [MI]), spasticity (Modified Ashworth Scale [MAS]) and pain (Numeric Rating Pain Scale [NRPS]). All patients were evaluated by a blinded observer using the outcomes tests at enrollment (T0), after the treatment (T1) and at follow up 6 weeks later (T2). RESULTS: Both control and experimental groups evidenced an improvement of the outcomes after the treatment (MI, Ashworth and NRPS with P<0.05). The experimental group showed further improvements after the follow up (all outcomes with P<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: In the treatment of pain, disability and spasticity in upper limb after stroke, robot-assisted mobilization associated to PRM is as effective as traditional rehabilitation. CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: Robot-assisted treatment has an impact on upper limb motor function in stroke patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-773
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Robotics
  • Stroke
  • Upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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