RiceWrist Robotic Device for Upper Limb Training: Feasibility Study and Case Report of Two Tetraplegic Persons with Spinal Cord Injury
Regaining upper extremity function is the primary concern of persons with tetraplegia caused by spinal cord injury (SCI). Robotic rehabilitation has been inadequately tested and underutilized in rehabilitation of the upper extremity in the SCI population. Given the acceptance of robotic training in stroke rehabilitation and SCI gait training, coupled with recent evidence that the spinal cord, like the brain, demonstrates plasticity that can be enhanced by repetitive movement training such as that available with robotic devices, it is probable that robotic upper extremity training of persons with SCI could be clinically beneficial. The primary goal of this pilot study was to test the feasibility of using a novel robotic device –the RiceWrist Exoskeleton- for rehabilitation of the upper limbs (UL) of two tetraplegic persons with incomplete SCI. Two pilot experiments were conducted. Experiment 1was the first novel attempt to administer treatment with the RiceWrist. The left UL of a tetraplegic subject was treated during seven therapy sessions. The subject’s feedback and the investigator’s obser-vations were used to enhance the robotic device and the corresponding graphical-interface. In Experiment 2, a second tetra-plegic subject underwent 10 three-hour training sessions administered by a physical therapist. Smoothness factor (FS) –a new measure developed in Experiment 1- was used as the primary outcome to test the subject’s performance before and after the training. The RiceWrist was modified according to the feedback obtained in Experiment 1. Thereafter, the device was suc-cessfully administered for upper limb training of the tetraplegic individual. Noticeable improvements in FS were observed for the stronger arm of the subject who completed 10 sessions of training. Improvements were also observed in the subject’s hand according to the Jebsen-Taylor Hand Function Test. Results from this study suggest a potential application of the RiceWrist for rehabilitation of SCI individuals and offer valuable information regarding development of UL robotic devices for this population.
robotic devices; RiceWrist; upper extremity; spinal cord injury