Singapore Institute of Technology
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Neurorehabilitation From a Distance: Can Intelligent Technology Support Decentralized Access to Quality Therapy?

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posted on 2024-06-28, 03:24 authored by Olivier Lambercy, Rea Lehner, Karen Chua, Seng Kwee WeeSeng Kwee Wee, Deshan Kumar Rajeswaran, Christopher Wee Keong Kuah, Wei Tech Ang, Phyllis Liang, Domenico Campolo, Asif Hussain, Gabriel Aguirre-Ollinger, Cuntai Guan, Christoph M. Kanzler, Nicole Wenderoth, Roger Gassert

Current neurorehabilitation models primarily rely on extended hospital stays and regular therapy sessions requiring close physical interactions between rehabilitation professionals and patients. The current COVID-19 pandemic has challenged this model, as strict physical distancing rules and a shift in the allocation of hospital resources resulted in many neurological patients not receiving essential therapy. Accordingly, a recent survey revealed that the majority of European healthcare professionals involved in stroke care are concerned that this lack of care will have a noticeable negative impact on functional outcomes. COVID-19 highlights an urgent need to rethink conventional neurorehabilitation and develop alternative approaches to provide high-quality therapy while minimizing hospital stays and visits. Technology-based solutions, such as, robotics bear high potential to enable such a paradigm shift. While robot-assisted therapy is already established in clinics, the future challenge is to enable physically assisted therapy and assessments in a minimally supervized and decentralized manner, ideally at the patient’s home. Key enablers are new rehabilitation devices that are portable, scalable and equipped with clinical intelligence, remote monitoring and coaching capabilities. In this perspective article, we discuss clinical and technological requirements for the development and deployment of minimally supervized, robot-assisted neurorehabilitation technologies in patient’s homes. We elaborate on key principles to ensure feasibility and acceptance, and on how artificial intelligence can be leveraged for embedding clinical knowledge for safe use and personalized therapy adaptation. Such new models are likely to impact neurorehabilitation beyond COVID-19, by providing broad access to sustained, high-quality and high-dose therapy maximizing long-term functional outcomes.


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Frontiers in Robotics and AI

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