Research Alert

Background: Upper extremity (UE) impairment affects up to 80% of stroke survivors and accounts for most of the rehabilitation after discharge from the hospital release. Compensation, commonly used by stroke survivors during UE rehabilitation, is applied to adapt to the loss of motor function and may impede the rehabilitation process in the long term and lead to new orthopedic problems. Intensive monitoring of compensatory movements is critical for improving the functional outcomes during rehabilitation.

Objective: This review analyzes how technology-based methods have been applied to assess and detect compensation during stroke UE rehabilitation.

Methods: We conducted a wide database search. All studies were independently screened by 2 reviewers (XW and YF), with a third reviewer (BY) involved in resolving discrepancies. The final included studies were rated according to their level of clinical evidence based on their correlation with clinical scales (with the same tasks or the same evaluation criteria). One reviewer (XW) extracted data on publication, demographic information, compensation types, sensors used for compensation assessment, compensation measurements, and statistical or artificial intelligence methods. Accuracy was checked by another reviewer (YF). Four research questions were presented. For each question, the data were synthesized and tabulated, and a descriptive summary of the findings was provided. The data were synthesized and tabulated based on each research question.

Results: A total of 72 studies were included in this review. In all, 2 types of compensation were identified: disuse of the affected upper limb and awkward use of the affected upper limb to adjust for limited strength, mobility, and motor control. Various models and quantitative measurements have been proposed to characterize compensation. Body-worn technology (25/72, 35% studies) was the most used sensor technology to assess compensation, followed by marker-based motion capture system (24/72, 33% studies) and marker-free vision sensor technology (16/72, 22% studies). Most studies (56/72, 78% studies) used statistical methods for compensation assessment, whereas heterogeneous machine learning algorithms (15/72, 21% studies) were also applied for automatic detection of compensatory movements and postures.

Conclusions: This systematic review provides insights for future research on technology-based compensation assessment and detection in stroke UE rehabilitation. Technology-based compensation assessment and detection have the capacity to augment rehabilitation independent of the constant care of therapists. The drawbacks of each sensor in compensation assessment and detection are discussed, and future research could focus on methods to overcome these disadvantages. It is advised that open data together with multilabel classification algorithms or deep learning algorithms could benefit from automatic real time compensation detection. It is also recommended that technology-based compensation predictions be explored.

Journal Link: Journal of Medical Internet Research