The systematic review was recently published by JMIR based on research undertaken by Professor Susan Mawson, Dr Jack Parker, and Lauren Powell

ABSTRACT

Background: With advances in technology, the adoption of wearable devices has become a viable adjunct in poststroke rehabilitation. Upper limb (UL) impairment affects up to 77% of stroke survivors impacting on their ability to carry out everyday activities. However, despite an increase in research exploring these devices for UL rehabilitation, little is known of their effectiveness.

Objective: This review aimed to assess the effectiveness of UL wearable technology for improving activity and participation in adult stroke survivors.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and randomized comparable trials of UL wearable technology for poststroke rehabilitation were included. Primary outcome measures were validated measures of activity and participation as defined by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health. Databases searched were MEDLINE, Web of Science (Core collection), CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library. The Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool was used to assess the methodological quality of the RCTs and the Downs and Black Instrument for the quality of non RCTs.

Results: In the review, we included 11 studies with collectively 354 participants at baseline and 323 participants at final follow-up including control groups and participants poststroke. Participants’ stroke type and severity varied. Only 1 study found significant between-group differences for systems functioning and activity (P≤.02). The 11 included studies in this review had small sample sizes ranging from 5 to 99 participants at an average (mean) age of 57 years.

Conclusions: This review has highlighted a number of reasons for insignificant findings in this area including low sample sizes and the appropriateness of the methodology for complex interventions. However, technology has the potential to measure outcomes, provide feedback, and engage users outside of clinical sessions. This could provide a platform for motivating stroke survivors to carry out more rehabilitation in the absence of a therapist, which could maximize recovery.

Read the full review here: https://www.jmir.org/2020/1/e15981/