Tele-rehabilitation versus local rehabilitation therapies assisted by robotic devices: a pilot study with patients
The present study aims to evaluate the advantages of a master-slave robotic rehabilitation therapy in which the patient is assisted in real-time by a therapist. We have also explored if this type of strategy is applicable in a tele-rehabilitation environment. A pilot study has been carried out involving 10 patients who have performed a point-to-point rehabilitation exercise supported by three assistance modalities: fixed assistance (without therapist interaction), local therapist assistance, and remote therapist assistance in a simulated tele-rehabiliation scenario. The rehabilitation exercise will be performed using an upper-limb rehabilitation robotic device that assists the patients through force fields. The results suggest that the assistance provided by the therapist is better adapted to patient needs than fixed assistance mode. Therefore, it maximizes the patient's level of effort, which is an important aspect to improve the rehabilitation outcomes. We have also seen that in a tele-rehabilitation environment it is more difficult to assess when to assist the patient than locally. However, the assistance suits patients better than the fixed assistance mode.