Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability and a major public health problem. Re-learning lost skills will increase people’s quality of life as they relearn to cook, dress, and perform tasks independently.
According to an article published by the American Heart Association:
every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke and every 3.5 minutes, someone dies of stroke. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Fortunately, the mortality rate is decreasing, worldwide. However, this is leaving more people suffering from the disability associated with cerebrovascular attacks (CVA). The American Heart Association estimates that approximately 795,000 people will have a new or recurrent stroke this year in the U.S. and approximately 140,000 of those strokes will be fatal (Tsao, et al, 2022). For more information from the American Heart Association, please visit: Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2022 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association | Circulation (ahajournals.org)
Rehabilitation After Stroke
Patients typically rehabilitate after a stroke through a combination of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Physical therapy focuses on improving muscle strength and coordination, as well as balance and mobility. Occupational therapy focuses on helping patients regain the ability to perform daily activities, such as dressing and eating. Speech therapy helps with language and communication skills. Additionally, medication and other treatments, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, may be used to help with recovery. It is important to note that the type and duration of rehabilitation can vary depending on the severity of the stroke and the individual patient’s presentation and deficits.
How Can Robots Be Used in Stroke Rehab?
Robotic rehabilitation is showing promise as a possible new treatment method. In the last decades, many studies such as Robot Therapy Can Help With Stroke Rehabilitation (healthline.com) have shown that people who underwent robotic rehabilitation had significantly improved arm function and hand dexterity compared with those who had conventional therapy (Bailey, 2022).
However, robotics technology has been out of reach for most patients. There are several reasons why many people may not have access to robotic rehabilitation for stroke recovery, including: cost, limited availability, limited insurance coverage, lack of awareness, and limited research. Due to the high cost of robotic rehabilitation technology, many individuals and healthcare providers may not be able to afford it, and insurance coverage for robotic rehabilitation can be limited, which can make it difficult for individuals to afford the cost. Additionally, robotic rehabilitation devices may not be widely available, especially in rural or underserved areas, and lack of awareness of the availability and potential benefits of robotic rehabilitation technology can also make it difficult for people to access it. Furthermore, there is limited research on the effectiveness of robotic rehabilitation for stroke survivors, which can make it difficult for healthcare providers to justify the cost of the technology or to make a clear case for its use in rehabilitation.
It is worth noting that the access to robotic rehabilitation is getting better with time, more and more research is conducted on the matter, and the technology is becoming more affordable and accessible, but still some of the factors above still exist.
Using a Robot for Stroke Rehabilitation Today
This year one of the main themes for CES (Consumer Electronics Show) was digital healthcare and robotics. We saw for the first time how robots can be used in patients’ homes to help patients reach their recovery potential. Companies like H Robotics brought their latest robotics and software solutions that patients can use to rehabilitate at home, making robotics technology finally accessible to all.
Stroke rehabilitation aims to promote neuroplasticity by providing repetitive and intensive training to the affected areas of the brain. This can include exercises such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive training. As you can imagine, robots can deliver highly repetitive, high intensity treatment more easily compared to the time it takes therapists to do so. This is the main reason why we will see more robotic devices in stroke rehab.
If you are curious about where this will lead us, you definitely want to check out this article showing the future of home rehab utilizing both robotic devices and brain machine interface (BMI):
What is Next?
The future of robotic rehabilitation looks promising, with ongoing research and development aimed at improving the effectiveness and affordability of the technology. Advancements in the field include more advanced and sophisticated devices, greater integration with other technologies, more affordable and accessible devices, greater use in home-based rehabilitation and increased use in stroke rehabilitation. The goal is to provide more effective, personalized, and accessible rehabilitation to individuals with a variety of conditions, including stroke.
Living with a chronic condition or recovering from a significant injury can be challenging, both physically and mentally. Rehabilitation offers a way to help individuals overcome these challenges and regain independence and confidence. In this blog, we will explore the various types of rehabilitation available, as well as share tips and advice to help you get the most out of your rehabilitation journey. Whether you’re just getting started or are well into your recovery, we hope you find our insights helpful and inspiring.