Adaptive hybrid robotic system for rehabilitation of reaching movement after a brain injury: A usability study

F. Resquín*, J. Gonzalez-Vargas, J. Ibáñez, F. Brunetti, I. Dimbwadyo, L. Carrasco, S. Alves, C. Gonzalez-Alted, A. Gomez-Blanco, Jose L Pons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Brain injury survivors often present upper-limb motor impairment affecting the execution of functional activities such as reaching. A currently active research line seeking to maximize upper-limb motor recovery after a brain injury, deals with the combined use of functional electrical stimulation (FES) and mechanical supporting devices, in what has been previously termed hybrid robotic systems. This study evaluates from the technical and clinical perspectives the usability of an integrated hybrid robotic system for the rehabilitation of upper-limb reaching movements after a brain lesion affecting the motor function. Methods: The presented system is comprised of four main components. The hybrid assistance is given by a passive exoskeleton to support the arm weight against gravity and a functional electrical stimulation device to assist the execution of the reaching task. The feedback error learning (FEL) controller was implemented to adjust the intensity of the electrical stimuli delivered on target muscles according to the performance of the users. This control strategy is based on a proportional-integral-derivative feedback controller and an artificial neural network as the feedforward controller. Two experiments were carried out in this evaluation. First, the technical viability and the performance of the implemented FEL controller was evaluated in healthy subjects (N = 12). Second, a small cohort of patients with a brain injury (N = 4) participated in two experimental session to evaluate the system performance. Also, the overall satisfaction and emotional response of the users after they used the system was assessed. Results: In the experiment with healthy subjects, a significant reduction of the tracking error was found during the execution of reaching movements. In the experiment with patients, a decreasing trend of the error trajectory was found together with an increasing trend in the task performance as the movement was repeated. Brain injury patients expressed a great acceptance in using the system as a rehabilitation tool. Conclusions: The study demonstrates the technical feasibility of using the hybrid robotic system for reaching rehabilitation. Patients' reports on the received intervention reveal a great satisfaction and acceptance of the hybrid robotic system. Trial registration: Retrospective trial registration in ISRCTN Register with study ID ISRCTN12843006.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104
JournalJournal of neuroengineering and rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 12 2017


  • Feedback error learning
  • Functional electrical stimulation
  • Hybrid robotic systems
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Upper limb rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Rehabilitation


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