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Effectiveness of robot-assisted arm exercise on arm and hand function in stroke survivors -- a systematic review and meta-analysis
Johansen T, Sorensen L, Kolskar KK, Strom V, Wouda MF
Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering 2023 Jan-Dec;10:20556683231183639
systematic review

OBJECTIVE: To examine the treatment effect of commercially available robotic-assisted devices, compared to traditional occupational- and physiotherapy on arm and hand function in persons with stroke. METHODS: A systematic literature search was conducted in Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials up to January 2022. Randomized controlled trials (RCT's) involving persons with stroke of all ages and robot-assisted exercise as method for arm and hand function, compared to traditional therapy methods were included. Three authors performed the selection independently. The quality of evidence across studies was assessed using GRADE. RESULTS: Eighteen RCT's were included in the study. A random effects meta-analysis showed a statistically significantly higher treatment effect in the robotic-assisted exercise group (p =< 0.0001) compared to the traditional treatment group, with a total effect size of 0.44 (CI 0.22 to 0.65). Heterogeneity was high, measured with I2 of 65%). Subgroup analyses showed no significant effects of the type of robotic device, treatment frequency or duration of intervention. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Even though the analysis showed significant improvement in arm and hand function in favor of the robotic-assisted exercise group, the results in this systematic review should be interpreted with caution. This is due to high heterogeneity among the studies included and the presence of possible publication bias. Results of this study highlight the need for larger and more methodological robust RCT's, with a focus on reporting training intensity during robotic exercise.

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