Research Reports - Robotic assessment of sensorimotor deficits after traumatic brain injury

J Neurol Phys Ther. 2012 Jun;36(2):58-67

Debert CT, Herter TM, Scott SH, Dukelow S

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Robotic technology is commonly used to quantify aspects
of typical sensorimotor function. We evaluated the feasibility of using robotic
technology to assess visuomotor and position sense impairments following
traumatic brain injury (TBI). We present results of robotic sensorimotor function
testing in 12 subjects with TBI, who had a range of initial severities (9 severe,
2 moderate, 1 mild), and contrast these results with those of clinical tests. We
also compared these with robotic test outcomes in persons without disability.
METHODS: For each subject with TBI, a review of the initial injury and
neuroradiologic findings was conducted. Following this, each subject completed a
number of standardized clinical measures (Fugl-Meyer Assessment, Purdue Peg
Board, Montreal Cognitive Assessment, Rancho Los Amigos Scale), followed by two
robotic tasks. A visually guided reaching task was performed to assess visuomotor
control of the upper limb. An arm position-matching task was used to assess
position sense. Robotic task performance in the subjects with TBI was compared
with findings in a cohort of 170 person without disabilities.
RESULTS: Subjects with TBI demonstrated a broad range of sensory and motor
deficits on robotic testing. Notably, several subjects with TBI displayed
significant deficits in one or both of the robotic tasks, despite normal scores
on traditional clinical motor and cognitive assessment measures.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The findings demonstrate the potential of robotic
assessments for identifying deficits in visuomotor control and position sense
following TBI. Improved identification of neurologic impairments following TBI
may ultimately enhance rehabilitation.

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