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

Results were presented at the 5th European Stroke Organisation Conference (ESOC) on the 22nd May 2019 and were be published simultaneously in The Lancet. There was also a corresponding commentary entitled Robotic-assisted training after stroke: RATULS advances science. The presentation can be watched here.

We will also be presenting the results at the 13th International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine on the 11th June 2019.

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 was a three group multicentre randomised controlled trial to determine whether robot assisted training improves upper limb function after stroke. Robot assisted training has been 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 took part in the trial were randomly assigned to either robot assisted training, enhanced upper limb therapy or usual NHS rehabilitation.

The effectiveness of robot assisted training was evaluated by comparing the upper limb function of patients in each randomisation group at 3 and 6 months. The study was open to recruitment for 57 months and recruited 770 stroke patients.