Myoelectric Orthosis Reduces Upper-limb Impairment in Chronic Stroke

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A study conducted to determine the immediate impact of a portable, myoelectric elbow-wrist-hand orthosis (EWHO) among people with chronic stroke conditions found that the device significantly reduced upper-limb impairment among the participants.

The cohort comprised 18 participants who exhibited chronic, moderate, stable, post-stroke conditions and upper-limb hemiparesis. The subjects were administered measures that tested upper-limb impairment and function, including the Fugl-Meyer (FM) Impairment Scale and the Box and Block Test of manual dexterity. They were then tested on the same battery of measures while wearing a myoelectric EWHO.

According to the study's authors, subjects exhibited significantly reduced upper-limb impairment and increased quality in performing all functional tasks while wearing the myoelectric EWHO, with significant increases in three subtasks: feeding (grasp), feeding (elbow), and drinking (grasp). Additionally, subjects showed significant decreases in the time taken to grasp a cup and increased gross manual dexterity.

The results suggest to the researchers that upper-limb impairment, as measured by the FM Impairment Scale, is significantly reduced when donning a myoelectric EWHO, and these changes exceeded the scale's clinically important difference threshold. Future work will integrate education sessions to increase subjects' ability to perform multijoint functional movements and attain consistent functional changes.

The study was published online January 24 in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.