Robot-assisted rehabilitation is an advanced new technology in stroke rehabilitation to provide intensive training. Post-stroke motor recovery depends on active rehabilitation by voluntary participation of patient’s paretic motor system as early as possible in order to promote reorganization of brain. However, voluntary residual motor efforts to the affected limb have not been involved enough in most robot-assisted rehabilitation for patients after stroke. The objective of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of robot-assisted rehabilitation using myoelectric control on upper limb motor recovery. In the present study, an exoskeleton-type rehabilitation robotic system was designed to provide voluntarily controlled assisted torque to the affected wrist. Voluntary intention was involved by using the residual surface electromyography (EMG) from flexor carpi radialis(FCR) and extensor carpi radialis (ECR)on the affected limb to control the mechanical assistance provided by the robotic system during wrist flexion and extension in a 20-session training. The system also applied constant resistant torque to the affected wrist during the training. Sixteen subjects after stroke had been recruited for evaluating the tracking performance and therapeutical effects of myoelectrically controlled robotic system. With the myoelectrically-controlled assistive torque, stroke survivors could reach a larger range of motion with a significant decrease in the EMG signal from the agonist muscles. The stroke survivors could be trained in the unreached range with their voluntary residual EMG on the paretic side. After 20-session rehabilitation training, there was a non-significant increase in the range of motion and a significant decrease in the root mean square error (RMSE) between the actual wrist angle and target angle. Significant improvements also could be found in muscle strength and clinical scales. These results indicate that robot-aided therapy with voluntary participation of patient’s paretic motor system using myoelectric control might have positive effect on upper limb motor recovery.
Song, R., Tong, K. Y., Hu, X., & Zhou, W. (2013). Myoelectrically controlled wrist robot for stroke rehabilitation. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-0003-10-52