Robot-assisted rehabilitation of hand function

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Initial work on robot-assisted neurorehabilitation for the upper extremity aimed primarily at training, reaching movements with the proximal sections of the upper extremity. However, recent years have seen a surge in devices dedicated to hand function. This review describes the state of the art and the promises of this novel therapeutic approach.

Recent findings

Numerous robotic devices for hand function with various levels of complexity and functionality have been developed over the last 10 years. These devices range from simple mechanisms that support single joint movements to mechanisms with as many as 18 degrees-of-freedom (DOF) that can support multijoint movements at the wrist and fingers. The results from clinical studies carried out with eight out of 30 reported devices indicate that robot-assisted hand rehabilitation reduces motor impairments of the affected hand and the arm, and improves the functional use of the affected hand.

Summary

The current evidence in support of the robot-assisted hand rehabilitation is preliminary but very promising, and provides a strong rationale for more systematic investigations in the future.

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