Robots are transforming medicine. You can find them now in the operating room, the cardiac cath lab and the radiation oncology department. So, when I came across a robot study used for stroke rehabilitation from the recent American Stroke Association meeting, I was intrigued. Stroke rehabilitation is, after all, what we do at Atlanta Hyperbaric.
The study patients consisted of 127 stroke survivors at the Veterans Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island who were about two years out from their strokes. The study patients were divided into three groups: robot-assisted rehabilitation, human-assisted rehabilitation and a control group who received ordinary care but without rehabilitation. Keep in mind, this study looked at patients who had their strokes a long time before, so rehabilitation is not normally given this late. The treatment groups had three one-hour sessions with either a human or a robot weekly for 12 weeks. At 36 weeks of follow up, the treatment groups had “fairly modest” but statistically significant improvement compared to the controls and no difference in results were seen between the robot-assisted and human-assisted groups.
The authors made a disappointing observation to explain their disappointing results: “there’s very little available for people with chronic stroke.” I guess they never heard of hyperbaric oxygen.