Quantification of age-related differences in reaching and circle-drawing using a robotic rehabilitation device

Alessandra Pacilli, Marco Germanotta, Stefano Rossi, Paolo Cappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Although robotic therapy is at the forefront of upper limb rehabilitation, there is limited information about the importance of selecting age-matched subjects to evaluate recovery of arm movement during rehabilitation.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to quantify differences in the arm motion of healthy children and adults when they interact with a planar robot, in order to determine whether an age-matched control group is necessary in clinical studies involving pediatric patients.

METHODS: Ten children (aged 7 to 10 years) and ten adults (aged 23 to 25 years) performed, at self-selected speed and accuracy, planar-reaching and circle-drawing movements with a robotic device. We analyzed the motor performances for the two groups quantifying the participants' dexterity in completing two chosen tasks. The measurement of the entire upper limb was obtained by merging the data provided by the robot with that of an optical tracking system.

RESULTS: Children drew circles with less smoothness than adults but with the same accuracy and joint coordination. During planar reaching task, children optimized only the coordination but performed the movement with less accuracy and smoothness than adults.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide evidence that age-matched healthy children should be used to quantify the recovery of robot-mediated therapy in children with upper limb impairments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-104
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Bionics and Biomechanics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Age-related differences
  • reaching
  • robot-mediated therapy
  • smoothness
  • tracking
  • upper limb motor control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering


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