Robot-Assisted Therapy for Upper Extremity Motor Impairment after Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Jingyi Wu, Hao Cheng, Jiaqi Zhang (Corresponding Author), Shanli Yang, Sufang Cai (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The purpose of this study was to review the effects of robot-assisted therapy (RT) for improving poststroke upper extremity motor impairment. Methods: The PubMed, Embase, Medline, and Web of Science databases were searched from inception to April 8, 2020. Randomized controlled trials that were conducted to evaluate the effects of RT on upper extremity motor impairment poststroke and that used Fugl-Meyer assessment for upper extremity scores as an outcome were included. Two authors independently screened articles, extracted data, and assessed the methodological quality of the included studies using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale. A random-effects meta-analysis was performed to pool the effect sizes across the studies. Results: Forty-one randomized controlled trials with 1916 stroke patients were included. Compared with dose-matched conventional rehabilitation, RT significantly improved the Fugl-Meyer assessment for upper extremity scores of the patients with stroke, with a small effect size (Hedges g = 0.25; 95% CI, 0.11-0.38; I2 = 45.9%). The subgroup analysis revealed that the effects of unilateral RT, but not that of bilateral RT, were superior to conventional rehabilitation (Hedges g = 0.32; 95% CI, 0.15-0.50; I2 = 55.9%). Regarding the type of robot devices, the effects of the end effector device (Hedges g = 0.22; 95% CI, 0.09-0.36; I2 = 35.4%), but not the exoskeleton device, were superior to conventional rehabilitation. Regarding the stroke stage, the between-group difference (ie, RT vs convention rehabilitation) was significant only for people with late subacute or chronic stroke (Hedges g = 0.33; 95% CI, 0.16-0.50; I2 = 34.2%). Conclusion: RT might be superior to conventional rehabilitation in improving upper extremity motor impairment in people after stroke with notable upper extremity hemiplegia and limited potential for spontaneous recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberpzab010
JournalPhysical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2021


  • Meta-Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Stroke
  • Unilateral/Bilateral Robot-Assisted Therapy
  • Upper Extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Robot-Assisted Therapy for Upper Extremity Motor Impairment after Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this