A randomized controlled trial on the effects induced by robot-assisted and usual-care rehabilitation on upper limb muscle synergies in post-stroke subjects
5 March 2021
Muscle synergies are hypothesized to reflect connections among … A randomized controlled trial on the effects induced by robot-assisted and usual-care rehabilitation on upper limb muscle synergies in post-stroke subjects
Muscle synergies are hypothesized to reflect connections among motoneurons in the spinal cord activated by central commands and sensory feedback.
Robotic rehabilitation of upper limb in post-stroke subjects has shown promising results in terms of improvement of arm function and motor control achieved by reassembling muscle synergies into a set more similar to that of healthy people. However, in stroke survivors the potentially neurophysiological changes induced by robot-mediated learning versus usual care have not yet been investigated. We quantified upper limb motor deficits and the changes induced by rehabilitation in 32 post-stroke subjects through the movement analysis of two virtual untrained tasks of object placing and pronation.
The sample analyzed in this study is part of a larger bi-center study and included all subjects who underwent kinematic analysis and were randomized into robot and usual care groups. Post-stroke subjects who followed robotic rehabilitation showed larger improvements in axial-to-proximal muscle synergies with respect to those who underwent usual care. This was associated to a significant improvement of the proximal kinematics. Both treatments had negative effects in muscle synergies controlling the distal district. This study supports the definition of new rehabilitative treatments for improving the neurophysiological recovery after stroke.