Many survivors of stroke have persistent somatosensory deficits on the contralesional side of their body. Non-invasive supplemental feedback of limb movement could enhance the accuracy and efficiency of actions involving the upper extremity, potentially improving quality of life after stroke. In this proof-of-concept study, we evaluated the feasibility and the immediate effects of providing supplemental kinesthetic feedback to stroke survivors, performing goal-directed actions with the contralesional arm. Three survivors of stroke in the chronic stage of recovery participated in experimental sessions wherein they performed reaching and stabilization tasks with the contralesional arm under different combinations of visual and vibrotactile feedback, which was induced on the ipsilesional arm. Movement kinematics were encoded by a vibrotactile feedback interface in two ways: state feedback—an optimal combination of hand position and velocity; and error feedback—the difference between the actual hand position and its instantaneous target. In each session we evaluated the feedback encoding scheme’s immediate objective utility for improving motor performance as well as its perceived usefulness. All three participants improved their stabilization performance using at least one of the feedback encoding schemes within just one experimental session. Two of the participants also improved reaching performance with one or the other of the encoding schemes. Although the observed beneficial effects were modest in each participant, these preliminary findings show that supplemental vibrotactile kinesthetic feedback can be readily interpreted and exploited to improve reaching and object stabilizing actions performed with the contralesional arm after stroke. These short-term training results motivate a longer multisession training study using personalized vibrotactile feedback as a means to improve the accuracy and efficacy of contralesional arm actions after stroke.
- Haptic feedback
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering