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Boosting the traditional physiotherapist approach for stroke spasticity using a sensorized ankle foot orthosis: A pilot study

AuthorsTamburella, Federica; Moreno, Juan Camilo CSIC ORCID ; Iosa, Marco; Pisotta, Iolanda; Cincotti, Febo; Mattia, Donatella; Pons Rovira, José Luis CSIC ORCID; Molinari, Marco
Human-to-human interaction
Issue Date2017
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationTopics in Stroke Rehabilitation 24(6): 447-456 (2017)
Abstract[Background]: Spasticity is a motor disorder that is commonly treated manually by a physical therapist (PhT) stretching the muscles. Recent data on learning have demonstrated the importance of human-to-human interaction in improving rehabilitation: cooperative motor behavior engages specific areas of the motor system compared with execution of a task alone.
[Objectives]: We hypothesize that PhT-guided therapy that involves active collaboration with the patient (Pt) through shared biomechanical visual biofeedback (vBFB) positively impacts learning and performance by the Pt during ankle spasticity treatment. A sensorized ankle foot orthosis (AFO) was developed to provide online quantitative data of joint range of motion (ROM), angular velocity, and electromyographic activity to the PhT and Pt during the treatment of ankle spasticity.
[Methods]: Randomized controlled clinical trial. Ten subacute stroke inpatients, randomized into experimental (EXP) and control (CTRL) groups, underwent six weeks of daily treatment. The EXP group was treated with an active AFO, and the CTRL group was given an inactive AFO. Spasticity, ankle ROM, ankle active and passive joint speed, and coactivation index (CI) were assessed at enrollment and after 15–30 sessions.
[Results]: Spasticity and CI (p < 0.005) decreased significantly after training only in the EXP group, in association with a significant rise in active joint speed and active ROM (p < 0.05). Improvements in spasticity (p < 0.05), active joint speed (p < 0.001), and CI (p < 0.001) after treatment differed between the EXP and CTRL groups.
[Conclusions]: PhT–Pt sharing of exercise information, provided by joint sensorization and vBFB, improved the efficacy of the conventional approach for treating ankle spasticity in subacute stroke Pts.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10749357.2017.1318340
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