User-Centric Feedback for the Development and Review of a Unique Robotic Glove Prototype to Be Used in Therapy
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of prolonged and repetitive passive range of motion (PROM) stretching of the fingers on hand function in stroke survivors. PARTICIPANTS Fifteen chronic stroke survivors with moderate to severe hand impairment took part in the study. METHOD Participants underwent 3 experimental sessions consisting of 30 minutes of rest, prolonged, or repetitive stretching of the finger flexor muscles by a powered glove orthosis (X-Glove). Outcome measures, comprised of 3 selected tasks from the Graded Wolf Motor Function Test (GWMFT), grip strength, lateral pinch strength, and grip relaxation time, were recorded at the start and end of each session. Change in outcome score for each session was used for analysis. RESULTS Data suggested a trend for improvement following stretching, especially for the repetitive PROM case. For one GWMFT task (lift washcloth), the effect of stretching condition on performance time approached a statistical significance (P = .015), with repetitive PROM stretching producing the greatest mean reduction. Similarly, repetitive stretching led to a 12% ± 16% increase in grip strength, although this change was not statistically different across groups (P = .356); and grip termination time was reduced, albeit non-significantly, by 66% ± 133%. CONCLUSION Repetitive PROM stretching exhibited trends to be more effective than prolonged stretching for improving hand motor control. Although the results were highly variable and the effects are undoubtedly transient, an extended period of repetitive PROM stretching may prove advantageous prior to hand therapy sessions to maximize treatment.