Robot-supported arm rehabilitation in the early phase after stroke


After a stroke, many patients suffer from impaired motor function of the arm. Optimal recovery of arm function is important to perform activities of daily life independently. To stimulate restoration of arm function after stroke intensive and task-specific training is essential. For this, application of robotic systems in rehabilitation is promising. A specific example, as shown by previous research by our group, is arm support. By using arm support active movements are facilitated. One of the biggest advantages of arm support using a robot is currently the possibility to ‘automate’ treatment. This means that one therapist would be able to supervise multiple patients at once. This way, the productivity of health care can increase and cost may be reduced.

In the past years, RRD has developed a device that can support the arm in a smart way (the Freebal), together with the University of Twente and Baat Medical. This concept was further developed by the Swiss company Hocoma into ArmeoBoom, in which arm support is combined with rehab games. This system will be implemented in 7 rehabilitation centres throughout the Netherlands in the scope of the ROBAR project. The objective of the ROBAR project is twofold. On one hand the aim is to enhance adoption and use of the system in clinical rehabilitation practice. This is done through education, instruction and supervision regarding organizational aspects. On the other hand, the clinical effectiveness of arm support will be investigated in the early phase of rehabilitation. For this, changes in arm function after arm support training and user experiences of stroke patients and rehabilitation professionals are examined.

Participating rehabilitation centres are Roessingh, Rehabilitation centre (Enschede), St. Maartenskliniek (Nijmegen), De Hoogstraat (Utrecht), Beatrixoord (Haren), Groot Klimmendaal (Arnhem), Rijndam (Rotterdam), Rehabilitation Centre Amsterdam (Amsterdam).

Consultant for implementation: Angenieta Snoek (Snoek-advise, Enschede).
Technical support: University of Twente (Enschede)

June 2010 – June 2012

Subsidy provider
Innovation program of Rehabilitation the Netherlands and ZonMW

Contact persons
Gerdienke Prange, or Anke Kottink,

Click here for the website of ROBAR

Rietman JS, Kottink AIR, Prange GB, Buurke JH. The effect of an arm support device on upper limb capacity in sub-acute stroke: a randomized controlled trial. European Congress of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ESPRM); 2012 May 28 – June 1; Thessaloniki, Greece

Kottink AIR, Prange GB, Buurke JH, Rietman JS. The effect of an arm support device on recovery of arm-hand function in sub-acute stroke: a randomized controlled trial. 1st International Conference on NeuroRehabilitation (ICNR) 2012 (14-16 Nov). In: J.L. Pons et al. (eds). Converging clinical and engineering research on neurorehabilitation. BIOSYSROB 1: p11-15 (DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-34546-3). Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2013, Toledo, Spain

Kottink AIR, Prange GB, Ribbers G, Renzenbrink B, van Geffen H, Meulenbelt H, Steinmeijer H, Nienhuys K, Kouwenhoven M, Buurke JH, Rietman JS. The ROBAR study; implementation and acceptation in care. VRA Annual Congres 2012; Mini-symposium Rehabilitation Robotics; November 1-2; Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands

Prange GB, Kottink AIR, Krabben T, Buurke JH, Rietman JS. Robotics for the upper extremity; from basic science to application in rehab. VRA Annual Congres 2012; Mini-symposium Rehabilitation Robotics; November 1-2; Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands.