3 years ago

Biofeedback effect of hybrid assistive limb in stroke rehabilitation: A proof of concept study using functional near infrared spectroscopy

Tooru Inoue, Koichi Hyakutake, Hisatomi Arima, Kenji Yagi, Toshiyasu Ogata, Etsuji Shiota, Kazuya Saita, Takashi Morishita

Robot-assisted rehabilitation has been increasingly drawing attention in the field of neurorehabilitation. The hybrid assistive limb (HAL) is an exoskeleton robot developed based on the “interactive biofeedback” theory, and several studies have shown its efficacy for patients with stroke. We aimed to investigate the mechanisms of the facilitative effect of neurorehabilitation using a single-joint HAL (HAL-SJ) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).

Materials and methods

Subacute stroke patients admitted to our hospital were assessed in this study for HAL eligibility. We evaluated motor-related cortical activity using an fNIRS system at baseline and immediately after HAL-SJ treatment on the same day. Cortical activity was determined through the relative changes in the hemoglobin concentrations. For statistical analysis, we compared the number of flexion/extension movements before and immediately after HAL-SJ treatment using paired t-test. fNIRS used both the methods of statistical parametric mapping and random effect analysis.


We finally included 10 patients (eight men, two women; mean age: 66.8 ± 12.0 years). The mean number of flexion/extension movements within 15 s increased significantly from 4.2 ± 3.1 to 5.3 ± 4.1 immediately after training. fNIRS showed increased cortical activation in the primary motor cortex of the ipsilesional hemisphere immediately after HAL-SJ treatment compared to the baseline condition.


This study is the first to support the concept of the biofeedback effect from the perspective of changes in cortical activity measured with an fNIRS system. The biofeedback effect of HAL immediately increased the task-related cortical activity, and this may address the functional recovery. Further studies are warranted to support our findings.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191361

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