Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 53 Number 6, 2016
   Pages 989 — 1006

Abstract — Tongue-controlled robotic rehabilitation: A feasibility study in people with stroke

Sarah Ostadabbas, PhD;1 Stephen N. Housley, PT;2 Nordine Sebkhi, MS;3 Kimberly Richards, PT;2 David Wu, BS;2 Zhenxuan Zhang, BS;3 Maria Garcia Rodriguez, PT;2 Lindsey Warthen, PT;2 Crystal Yarbrough, PT;2 Samir Belagaje, MD;4 Andrew J. Butler, PhD, PT;2,5* Maysam Ghovanloo, PhD3

1Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Northeastern University, Boston, MA; 2Department of Physical Therapy, Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing & Health Professions, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA; 3School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA; 4School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA; 5Atlanta Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, Department of Veterans Affairs, Decatur, GA; and Joint Center for Advanced Brain Imaging, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

Abstract — Stroke survivors with severe upper limb (UL) impairment face years of therapy to recover function. Robot-assisted therapy (RT) is increasingly used in the field for goal-oriented rehabilitation as a means to improve UL function. To be used effectively for wrist and hand therapy, the current RT systems require the patient to have a minimal active range of movement in the UL, and those that do not have active voluntary movement cannot use these systems. We have overcome this limitation by harnessing tongue motion to allow patients to control a robot using synchronous tongue and hand movement. This novel RT device combines a commercially available UL exoskeleton, the Hand Mentor, and our custom-designed Tongue Drive System as its controller. We conducted a proof-of-concept study on six nondisabled participants to evaluate the system usability and a case series on three participants with movement limitations from poststroke hemiparesis. Data from two stroke survivors indicate that for patients with chronic, moderate UL impairment following stroke, a 15-session training regimen resulted in modest decreases in impairment, with functional improvement and improved quality of life. The improvement met the standard of minimal clinically important difference for activities of daily living, mobility, and strength assessments.

Key words: assistive technology, exoskeleton, Hand Mentor, motor cortex, neuroplasticity, robot-assisted therapy, robotic rehabilitation, stroke, Tongue Drive System, upper-limb functional recovery.


View HTML ?? View PDF ?? Contents Vol. 53, No. 6
This article and any supplementary material should be cited as follows:
Ostadabbas S, Housley SN, Sebkhi N, Richards K, Wu D, Zhang Z, Garcia Rodriguez M, Warthen L, Yarbrough C, Balagaje S, Butler AJ, Ghovanloo M. Tongue-controlled robotic rehabilitation: A feasibility study in people with stroke. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2016;53(6):989–1006. http://dx.doi.org/10.1682/JRRD.2015.06.0122
ORCID: Stephen N. Housley, PT: 0000-0002-7046-9109; Andrew J. Butler, PhD, PT: 0000-0003-3869-9120
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