Robot-assisted support combined with electrical stimulation for the lower extremity in stroke patients: a systematic review

CJH Rikhof, Y Feenstra, JFM Fleuren, JH Buurke, EC Prinsen, JS Rietman, GB Prange-Lasonder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective. The incidence of stroke rising, leading to an increased demand for rehabilitation services. Literature has consistently shown that early and intensive rehabilitation is beneficial for stroke patients. Robot-assisted devices have been extensively studied in this context, as they have the potential to increase the frequency of therapy sessions and thereby the intensity. Robot-assisted systems can be combined with electrical stimulation (ES) to further enhance muscle activation and patient compliance. The objective of this study was to review the effectiveness of ES combined with all types of robot-assisted technology for lower extremity rehabilitation in stroke patients. Approach. A thorough search of peer-reviewed articles was conducted. The quality of the included studies was assessed using a modified version of the Downs and Black checklist. Relevant information regarding the interventions, devices, study populations, and more was extracted from the selected articles. Main results. A total of 26 articles were included in the review, with 23 of them scoring at least fair on the methodological quality. The analyzed devices could be categorized into two main groups: cycling combined with ES and robots combined with ES. Overall, all the studies demonstrated improvements in body function and structure, as well as activity level, as per the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health model. Half of the studies in this review showed superiority of training with the combination of robot and ES over robot training alone or over conventional treatment. Significance. The combination of robot-assisted technology with ES is gaining increasing interest in stroke rehabilitation. However, the studies identified in this review present challenges in terms of comparability due to variations in outcome measures and intervention protocols. Future research should focus on actively involving and engaging patients in executing movements and strive for standardization in outcome values and intervention protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021001
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of neural engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2024


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • rehabilitation
  • robot
  • stroke
  • electrical stimulation


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