Improving Post-Stroke Rehabilitation Effectiveness and Compliance using Smart Objects

Each year, approximately 750,000 Americans suffer a stroke and approximately 400,000 experience disabilities as a result. Among the most common disabilities are impaired upper limb movements, which can reduce patient quality of life. After completing prescribed rehabilitation programs, patients return home and are charged with continuing their therapy at home with only minimal interaction from a therapist. When patients do not perform their therapy there is a high risk of recurring loss of function. Getting patients to remain active, even at a low level, can greatly reduce the burden on the healthcare system by lowering hospital readmission. Therapist resources are limited and expensive, therefore alternative means of home-based rehabilitation that encourage compliance are needed.

The objective of this project is to develop an instrumented testing system that allows both the patient and therapist to track rehabilitation in the home for post-stroke patients. Inspired by the tools used in the Wolf Motor Function Test, a prototype variable weight object will be developed. Along with this prototype, interfaces will be developed for the presentation of feedback data to the user and transmission of data to the therapist. This system will aid in addressing the research questions:

1)      Can patients effectively use this new way of measurement?

2)      What data is necessary for the evaluation of patient progress?

3)      Does feedback of movement quality, in addition to the standard time measurement, promote rehabilitation compliance?

Capabilities of the system to be explored will include measurement of test time, object position/orientation, acceleration, and jerk, and patient gripping force on the object. User interfaces will be designed with the objective of encouraging system interaction for the patients and maximizing clinical utility for the therapist. An important ability of the data collection and transmission system is the tracking of patient progress in terms of task time and motion smoothness.