Boosting the traditional physiotherapist approach for stroke spasticity using a sensorized ankle foot orthosis: A pilot study

Federica Tamburella, Juan C. Moreno, Marco Iosa, Iolanda Pisotta, Febo Cincotti, Donatella Mattia, José L. Pons, Marco Molinari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Spasticity is a motor disorder that is commonly treated manually by a physical therapist (PhT) stretching the muscles. Recent data on learning have demonstrated the importance of human-tohuman interaction in improving rehabilitation: cooperative motor behavior engages specific areas of the motor system compared with execution of a task alone. Objectives: We hypothesize that PhT-guided therapy that involves active collaboration with the patient (Pt) through shared biomechanical visual biofeedback (vBFB) positively impacts learning and performance by the Pt during ankle spasticity treatment. A sensorized ankle foot orthosis (AFO) was developed to provide online quantitative data of joint range of motion (ROM), angular velocity, and electromyographic activity to the PhT and Pt during the treatment of ankle spasticity. Methods: Randomized controlled clinical trial. Ten subacute stroke inpatients, randomized into experimental (EXP) and control (CTRL) groups, underwent six weeks of daily treatment. The EXP group was treated with an active AFO, and the CTRL group was given an inactive AFO. Spasticity, ankle ROM, ankle active and passive joint speed, and coactivation index (CI) were assessed at enrollment and after 15-30 sessions. Results: Spasticity and CI (p < 0.005) decreased significantly after training only in the EXP group, in association with a significant rise in active joint speed and active ROM (p < 0.05). Improvements in spasticity (p < 0.05), active joint speed (p < 0.001), and CI (p < 0.001) after treatment differed between the EXP and CTRL groups. Conclusions: PhT-Pt sharing of exercise information, provided by joint sensorization and vBFB, improved the efficacy of the conventional approach for treating ankle spasticity in subacute stroke Pts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-456
Number of pages10
JournalTopics in Stroke Rehabilitation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Biofeedback
  • Biomechanical
  • Human-to-human interaction
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spasticity
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Community and Home Care
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Boosting the traditional physiotherapist approach for stroke spasticity using a sensorized ankle foot orthosis: A pilot study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this