Background: Stroke is a major contributor to the reduced ability to carry
out activities of daily living (ADL) post cerebral infarct. There has been a major focus
on understanding and improving rehabilitation interventions in order to target cortical
neural plasticity to support recovery of upper limb function. Conventional therapies
delivered by therapists have been combined with the application of mechanical and robotic devices to provide controlled
and assisted movement of the paretic upper limb. The ability to provide greater levels of intensity and reproducible repetitive
task practice through the application of intervention devices are key mechanisms to support rehabilitation efficacy.
Results: This review of literature published in the last decade identified 141 robotic or mechanical devices. These devices
have been characterised and assessed by their individual characteristics to provide a review of current trends in rehabilitation
device interventions. Correlation of factors identified to promote positive targeted neural plasticity has raised questions
over the benefits of expensive robotic devices over simple mechanical ones.
Conclusion: A mechanical device with appropriate functionality to support the promotion of neural plasticity after stroke
may provide an effective solution for both patient recovery and to stimulate further research into the use of medical devices
in stroke rehabilitation. These findings indicate that a focus on simple, cost effective and efficacious intervention solutions
may improve rehabilitation outcomes.
Keywords: Activities of daily living, exercise therapy, paresis, recovery of function, robotics, stroke, upper extremity, mechanical
devices, neural plasticity.
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