Robotic approaches for the rehabilitation of upper limb recovery after stroke: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Chao Zhang, Wai Ping Cecilia Tsang, Ricky K.C. Au

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


This systematic review with a meta-analysis of studies was carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of robotic training (RT) and conventional training (CT) in improving the motor recovery of paretic upper limbs in stroke patients. Numerous electronic databases were searched from January 2000 to May 2016. Finally, 13 randomized-controlled trials fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were included in the three meta-analyses. The first meta-analysis carried out for those studies using RT for stroke patients indicated a significant improvement in the RT groups. The second meta-analysis suggested that the upper limb function (measured by Fugl-Meyer test) was significantly improved when RT was used with CT compared with CT alone. The third meta-analysis noted a significant difference in motor recovery between the CT-only and RT groups (RT only or RT combined with CT) in the chronic stages of stroke, but not in the acute or subacute stages. However, the RT group also showed a higher Fugl-Meyer score in patients at both the acute and the subacute stage. RT appeared to have positive outcomes to enhance motor recovery of the paralyzed upper limb. Robotic devices were believed to provide more assistance to patients to help support the weight of the upper limb; thus, active movement training can begin in the early rehabilitation stage. These novel devices may also help those chronic patients to achieve better rehabilitation goals. As a summary, RT could be used in addition to CT to help both therapists and patients in the management of the paralyzed upper limb.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Rehabilitation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • arm
  • motor function
  • rehabilitation
  • robotic training
  • stroke
  • upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Robotic approaches for the rehabilitation of upper limb recovery after stroke: A systematic review and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this