Robotics in Spinal Cord Injury?

A short Summary of the Findings.

Outcomes from a new review suggest that robotic therapy may be beneficial for patients with cervical spinal cord injury! This systematic review drew from twelve studies involving treatment of spinal cord injury with robotic therapy targeted to the upper extremity [1]. Robotic therapy systems included in the study were both end-effector and exoskeleton upper extremity systems. Trends from the studies reviewed showed that spinal cord injury patients with moderate to mild impairment demonstrated the greatest functional and motor performance gains in the upper extremity [1].

Why is this study important? 

While there are studies that examine the affects of robotic therapy in the spinal cord injury population, there are fewer studies on this population than the stroke population. This article points to areas of future research in spinal cord injury intervention. While the use of varying robotic devices may also be considered a weakness, I see it as one of this article's greatest strengths. This small review shows a preliminary trend among a diverse field of UE robotic devices, providing evidence that these devices may be practical, safe, and could reduce the level of assistance provided by the treating therapist [1]. 

Repetition, dosing, intensity.

These are terms we hear trending repeatedly in neurological rehabilitation. Many clinicians find it difficult to replicate new protocols involving hundreds of motor repetitions in the upper extremity to train functional reach patterns. Not to mention, with higher levels of motor impairment (especially in the spinal cord injury population), risk of therapist physical strain may increase. How do we prevent therapist burn-out and injury? Technology may be the answer to this dilemma and this review identifies this as a prime area in future research.

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Check out this review at the link below!


Post by Holly Mitchell, MOT, OTR/L



Singh, H., Unger, J., Zariffa, J., Pakosh, M., Jaglal, S., Craven, B. C., & Musselman, K. E. (2018). Robot-assisted upper extremity rehabilitation for cervical spinal cord injuries: A systematic scoping review. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology,1-12. doi:10.1080/17483107.2018.1425747