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Rehabilitation robots for the treatment of sensorimotor deficits: a neurophysiological perspective


Gassert, Roger; Dietz, Volker (2018). Rehabilitation robots for the treatment of sensorimotor deficits: a neurophysiological perspective. Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation (JNER):15:46.

Abstract

The past decades have seen rapid and vast developments of robots for the rehabilitation of sensorimotor deficits after damage to the central nervous system (CNS). Many of these innovations were technology-driven, limiting their clinical application and impact. Yet, rehabilitation robots should be designed on the basis of neurophysiological insights underlying normal and impaired sensorimotor functions, which requires interdisciplinary collaboration and background knowledge.Recovery of sensorimotor function after CNS damage is based on the exploitation of neuroplasticity, with a focus on the rehabilitation of movements needed for self-independence. This requires a physiological limb muscle activation that can be achieved through functional arm/hand and leg movement exercises and the activation of appropriate peripheral receptors. Such considerations have already led to the development of innovative rehabilitation robots with advanced interaction control schemes and the use of integrated sensors to continuously monitor and adapt the support to the actual state of patients, but many challenges remain. For a positive impact on outcome of function, rehabilitation approaches should be based on neurophysiological and clinical insights, keeping in mind that recovery of function is limited. Consequently, the design of rehabilitation robots requires a combination of specialized engineering and neurophysiological knowledge. When appropriately applied, robot-assisted therapy can provide a number of advantages over conventional approaches, including a standardized training environment, adaptable support and the ability to increase therapy intensity and dose, while reducing the physical burden on therapists. Rehabilitation robots are thus an ideal means to complement conventional therapy in the clinic, and bear great potential for continued therapy and assistance at home using simpler devices.This review summarizes the evolution of the field of rehabilitation robotics, as well as the current state of clinical evidence. It highlights fundamental neurophysiological factors influencing the recovery of sensorimotor function after a stroke or spinal cord injury, and discusses their implications for the development of effective rehabilitation robots. It thus provides insights on essential neurophysiological mechanisms to be considered for a successful development and clinical inclusion of robots in rehabilitation.

Abstract

The past decades have seen rapid and vast developments of robots for the rehabilitation of sensorimotor deficits after damage to the central nervous system (CNS). Many of these innovations were technology-driven, limiting their clinical application and impact. Yet, rehabilitation robots should be designed on the basis of neurophysiological insights underlying normal and impaired sensorimotor functions, which requires interdisciplinary collaboration and background knowledge.Recovery of sensorimotor function after CNS damage is based on the exploitation of neuroplasticity, with a focus on the rehabilitation of movements needed for self-independence. This requires a physiological limb muscle activation that can be achieved through functional arm/hand and leg movement exercises and the activation of appropriate peripheral receptors. Such considerations have already led to the development of innovative rehabilitation robots with advanced interaction control schemes and the use of integrated sensors to continuously monitor and adapt the support to the actual state of patients, but many challenges remain. For a positive impact on outcome of function, rehabilitation approaches should be based on neurophysiological and clinical insights, keeping in mind that recovery of function is limited. Consequently, the design of rehabilitation robots requires a combination of specialized engineering and neurophysiological knowledge. When appropriately applied, robot-assisted therapy can provide a number of advantages over conventional approaches, including a standardized training environment, adaptable support and the ability to increase therapy intensity and dose, while reducing the physical burden on therapists. Rehabilitation robots are thus an ideal means to complement conventional therapy in the clinic, and bear great potential for continued therapy and assistance at home using simpler devices.This review summarizes the evolution of the field of rehabilitation robotics, as well as the current state of clinical evidence. It highlights fundamental neurophysiological factors influencing the recovery of sensorimotor function after a stroke or spinal cord injury, and discusses their implications for the development of effective rehabilitation robots. It thus provides insights on essential neurophysiological mechanisms to be considered for a successful development and clinical inclusion of robots in rehabilitation.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Balgrist University Hospital, Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:5 June 2018
Deposited On:07 Jun 2018 10:04
Last Modified:24 Sep 2019 23:30
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1743-0003
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12984-018-0383-x
PubMed ID:29866106

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