‌‌RATULS: A trial to evaluate robot assisted training for the upper limb after stroke

Loss of arm function is a common and distressing consequence of stroke. Currently it is unclear how best to provide therapy to improve arm recovery. Research suggests that robot assisted training may be beneficial but this is not yet proven and further research is needed. Robot assisted training consists of the use of a machine or ‘robot’ to exercise the arm.

This research study is a three group multicentre randomised controlled trial to determine whether robot assisted training improves upper limb function after stroke. Robot assisted training will be compared to i) an enhanced upper limb therapy programme consisting of repeated practice of everyday activities using the arm and ii) usual NHS rehabilitation. Stroke patients with reduced arm function who wish to take part in the trial will be randomly assigned to either robot assisted training, enhanced upper limb therapy or usual NHS rehabilitation.

The effectiveness of robot assisted training will be evaluated by comparing the upper limb function of patients in each randomisation group at 3 and 6 months. The study will run for 57 months and aims to recruit 720 stroke patients.