Content » Vol 49, Issue 6

Review article

Robotic devices and brain-machine interfaces for hand rehabilitation post-stroke

Alistair C. McConnell, Renan C. Moioli, Fabricio L. Brasil, Marta Vallejo, David W. Corne, Patricia A. Vargas, Adam A. Stokes
Robotics Lab., School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, EH14 4AS Edinburgh, United Kingdom. E-mail:

DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2229


Objective: To review the state of the art of robotic-aided hand physiotherapy for post-stroke rehabilitation, including the use of brain-machine interfaces. Each patient has a unique clinical history and, in response to personalized treatment needs, research into individualized and at-home treatment options has expanded rapidly in recent years. This has resulted in the development of many devices and design strategies for use in stroke rehabilitation.
Methods: The development progression of robotic-aided hand physiotherapy devices and brain-machine interface systems is outlined, focussing on those with mechanisms and control strategies designed to improve recovery outcomes of the hand post-stroke. A total of 110 commercial and non-commercial hand and wrist devices, spanning the 2 major core designs: end-effector and exoskeleton are reviewed.
Results: The growing body of evidence on the efficacy and relevance of incorporating brain-machine interfaces in stroke rehabilitation is summarized. The challenges involved in integrating robotic rehabilitation into the healthcare system are discussed.
Conclusion: This review provides novel insights into the use of robotics in physiotherapy practice, and may help system designers to develop new devices.

Lay Abstract

A Review of the current state and future potential of robotic systems and brain machine interfaces for stroke rehabilitations.
Stroke is an increasing global disease. There is an increase in the number of survivors from stroke but no corresponding increase in the number of specialists to aid with rehabilitation of patients.
Within the field of robotics, an area of increasing investment and development is medical robotics.
This review explains the current issues facing stroke rehabilitation and explores how the use of medical robotic systems and brain machine interfaces could resolve some of these challenges. Also discussed are future trends in hardware development (for example the use of soft robotics over hard robotics), and the ethical issues surrounding patient data usage.

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