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Reactive Exercises with Interactive Objects: Interim Analysis of a Randomized Trial on Task-Driven NMES Grasp Rehabilitation for Subacute and Early Chronic Stroke Patients

Crema, Andrea; Furfaro, Ivan; Raschellà, Flavio; Rossini, Mauro; Zajc, Johannes; Wiesener, Constantin; Baccinelli, Walter; Proserpio, Davide; Augsten, Andreas; Immick, Nancy; Becker, Sebastian; Weber, Matthias; Schauer, Thomas; Krakow, Karsten; Gasperini, Giulio; Molteni, Franco; Russold, Michael Friedrich; Bulgheroni, Maria; Micera, Silvestro

Enriched environments and tools are believed to promote grasp rehabilitation after stroke. We designed S2, an interactive grasp rehabilitation system consisting of smart objects, custom orthoses for selective grasp constraining, and an electrode array system for forearm NMES. Motor improvements and perceived usability of a new enriched upper limb training system for sub-acute stroke patients was assessed in this interim analysis. Inclusion criteria: sub-acute stroke patients with MMSE>20, ipsilesional MI>80%, and contralesional MI<80%. Effects of 30-min therapy supplements, conventional vs. S2 prototype, are compared through a parallel two-arms dose-matched open-label trial, lasting 27 sessions. Clinical centres: Asklepios Neurologische Klinik Falkenstein, Königstein im Taunus, Germany, and Clinica Villa Beretta, Costa Masnaga, Italy. Assessment scales: ARAT, System Usability, and Technology Acceptance. Methodology: 26 participants were block randomized, allocated to the study (control N=12, experimental N=14) and underwent the training protocol. Among them, 11 participants with ARAT score at inclusion below 35, n = 6 in the experimental group, and n = 5 in the control group were analysed. Results: participants in the enriched treatment group displayed a larger improvement in the ARAT scale (+14.9 pts, pval=0.0494). Perceived usability differed between clinics. No adverse effect was observed in relation to the treatments. Trial status: closed. Conclusions: The S2 system, developed according to shared clinical directives, was tested in a clinical proof of concept. Variations of ARAT scores confirm the feasibility of clinical investigation for hand rehabilitation after stroke.
Published in: Sensors, 10.3390/s21206739, MDPI