It is unsurprising that, as the population increases and ages, more therapists will be needed for rehabilitation, but the therapist numbers are not growing to match the need for therapy. The resulting deficit leaves even top rehabilitation centers at a loss; fewer therapy experts means less rehab time for patients.
The human element of therapy is undeniable—people need people in order to heal. However, time and physical effort is required to manually facilitate high-repetition therapy exercises desperately needed by patients and this limits their execution, even in world-class facilities. Therapists are the limiting factor in patient care simply because there are not enough experts and their physical resources are limited, especially in case of severely affected patients who require high physical support. This problem is only expected to worsen.
Technology, in the form of robotic rehabilitation, solves this issue elegantly by relieving therapists of the burden of attending to every repetition, allowing them to serve more patients, more efficiently, and with better outcomes.
In stroke and neurorehabilitation, intensity is key
Many studies have shown that in various types of injuries, rehabilitation that includes hundreds to thousands of repetitions produce best clinical outcomes for upper and lower extremity movements. Task specificity and muscle reconditioning, in addition to neuroplasticity, are important factors influenced by intense, targeted, repetitive motor training.
A shocking study conducted in 2017 on spinal cord rehab patients found that:
- As much at 40% of therapy time was dedicated to non-therapeutic actions, such as sling transfers and activity set up
- Patients spent only 12-15 minutes in group-based rehab activity
- Up to 2/3 of patients did not participate in group activities at all
- The highest-repetition groups did not exceed 100 repetitions for occupational and physiotherapy combined
- The daily repetitions were significantly lower than those require for muscle and neural improvements.1
Furthermore, the following table from a study of outpatients suffering from partial paralysis post-stroke shows less than 100 repetitions per session with the exception of walking steps.2