Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial
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Effect of task-oriented training assisted by force feedback hand rehabilitation robot on finger grasping function in stroke patients with hemiplegia: a randomised controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: Over 80% of patients with stroke experience finger grasping dysfunction, affecting independence in activities of daily living and quality of life. In routine training, task-oriented training is usually used for functional hand training, which may improve finger grasping performance after stroke, while augmented therapy may lead to a better treatment outcome. As a new technology-supported training, the hand rehabilitation robot provides opportunities to improve the therapeutic effect by increasing the training intensity. However, most hand rehabilitation robots commonly applied in clinics are based on a passive training mode and lack the sensory feedback function of fingers, which is not conducive to patients completing more accurate grasping movements. A force feedback hand rehabilitation robot can compensate for these defects. However, its clinical efficacy in patients with stroke remains unknown. This study aimed to investigate the effectiveness and added value of a force feedback hand rehabilitation robot combined with task-oriented training in stroke patients with hemiplegia.

METHODS: In this single-blinded randomised controlled trial, 44 stroke patients with hemiplegia were randomly divided into experimental (n = 22) and control (n = 22) groups. Both groups received 40 min/day of conventional upper limb rehabilitation training. The experimental group received 20 min/day of task-oriented training assisted by a force feedback rehabilitation robot, and the control group received 20 min/day of task-oriented training assisted by therapists. Training was provided for 4 weeks, 5 times/week. The Fugl-Meyer motor function assessment of the hand part (FMA-Hand), Action Research Arm Test (ARAT), grip strength, Modified Ashworth scale (MAS), range of motion (ROM), Brunnstrom recovery stages of the hand (BRS-H), and Barthel index (BI) were used to evaluate the effect of two groups before and after treatment.

RESULTS: Intra-group comparison: In both groups, the FMA-Hand, ARAT, grip strength, AROM, BRS-H, and BI scores after 4 weeks of treatment were significantly higher than those before treatment (p < 0.05), whereas there was no significant difference in finger flexor MAS scores before and after treatment (p > 0.05). Inter-group comparison: After 4 weeks of treatment, the experimental group's FMA-Hand total score, ARAT, grip strength, and AROM were significantly better than those of the control group (p < 0.05). However, there were no statistically significant differences in the scores of each sub-item of the FMA-Hand after Bonferroni correction (p > 0.007). In addition, there were no statistically significant differences in MAS, BRS-H, and BI scores (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Hand performance improved in patients with stroke after 4 weeks of task-oriented training. The use of a force feedback hand rehabilitation robot to support task-oriented training showed additional value over conventional task-oriented training in stroke patients with hand dysfunction.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION INFORMATION: NCT05841108.

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