Background: Rehabilitation robots can provide intensive physical training after stroke. However, variations of the rehabilitation effects in translation from well-controlled research studies to clinical services have not been well evaluated yet. This study aims to compare the rehabilitation effects of the upper limb training by an electromyography (EMG)-driven robotic hand achieved in a well-controlled research environment and in a practical clinical service. Methods: It was a non-randomized controlled trial, and thirty-two participants with chronic stroke were recruited either in the clinical service (n = 16, clinic group), or in the research setting (n = 16, lab group). Each participant received 20-session EMG-driven robotic hand assisted upper limb training. The training frequency (4 sessions/week) and the pace in a session were fixed for the lab group, while they were flexible (1-3 sessions/week) and adaptive for the clinic group. The training effects were evaluated before and after the treatment with clinical scores of the Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA), Action Research Arm Test (ARAT), Functional Independence Measure (FIM), and Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS). Results: Significant improvements in the FMA full score, shoulder/elbow and wrist/hand (P < 0.001), ARAT (P < 0.001), and MAS elbow (P < 0.05) were observed after the training for both groups. Significant improvements in the FIM (P < 0.05), MAS wrist (P < 0.001) and MAS hand (P < 0.05) were only obtained after the training in the clinic group. Compared with the lab group, higher FIM improvement in the clinic group was observed (P < 0.05). Conclusions: The functional improvements after the robotic hand training in the clinical service were comparable to the effectiveness achieved in the research setting, through flexible training schedules even with a lower training frequency every week. Higher independence in the daily living and a more effective release in muscle tones were achieved in the clinic group than the lab group.
- Clinical service
- Upper limb
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Biomedical Engineering
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging