Bilateral robotic priming before task-oriented approach in subacute stroke rehabilitation: a pilot randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

Objectives:

To investigate the treatment effects of bilateral robotic priming combined with the task-oriented approach on motor impairment, disability, daily function, and quality of life in patients with subacute stroke.

Design:

A randomized controlled trial.

Setting:

Occupational therapy clinics in medical centers.

Subjects:

Thirty-one subacute stroke patients were recruited.

Interventions:

Participants were randomly assigned to receive bilateral priming combined with the task-oriented approach (i.e., primed group) or to the task-oriented approach alone (i.e., unprimed group) for 90 minutes/day, 5 days/week for 4 weeks. The primed group began with the bilateral priming technique by using a bimanual robot-aided device.

Main measures:

Motor impairments were assessed by the Fugal-Meyer Assessment, grip strength, and the Box and Block Test. Disability and daily function were measured by the modified Rankin Scale, the Functional Independence Measure, and actigraphy. Quality of life was examined by the Stroke Impact Scale.

Results:

The primed and unprimed groups improved significantly on most outcomes over time. The primed group demonstrated significantly better improvement on the Stroke Impact Scale strength subscale (p = 0.012) and a trend for greater improvement on the modified Rankin Scale (p = 0.065) than the unprimed group.

Conclusion:

Bilateral priming combined with the task-oriented approach elicited more improvements in self-reported strength and disability degrees than the task-oriented approach by itself. Further large-scale research with at least 31 participants in each intervention group is suggested to confirm the study findings.

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