Improving arm function after a stroke

Stroke is the third largest cause for disability worldwide. Around 75% of the patients have problems with using the arm or hand in daily life after a stroke.

In our project we aim to improve the arm function of stroke patients. Our goal is to help patients that just recently had a stroke, but also patients that are already finished with the standard rehabilitation program. The research questions are:

  • How effective is a circuit class training program in the subacute stage after stroke and how are we able to improve this program?
  • How effective is training at home using an assistive device in improving the arm function and what are the patients’ experiences?

How our research benefits to society

Evidence based training in the rehabilitation center

Our academic rehabilitation center Beatrixoord provides the perfect location to perform clinical research. A few years ago, the circuit class training program for the upper limb was developed by a group of therapists from our center. Although being thoroughly studied for the lower limb (van der Port et al., 2009), the upper limb program has never been validated. In this project, we investigate different variables such as the effectiveness on upper limb improvement, the enjoyment of the patient and the workload of the therapist. We aim for a circuit class training program for the upper limb which is able to improve the upper limb function, is enjoyable for the patient and provides a low workload for the therapists. As such, patients and therapist are closely involved during this study. The final version of the circuit class training will be shared online, available for other rehabilitation centers to implement in their training.

Telerehabilitation: training at home

When patients are dismissed from the rehabilitation center, the training intensity is immediately reduced. To provide patients with the possibility to train at home, an assistive device named the ArmAssist (Tecnalia, San Sebastian, Spain) was upgraded to be used at home. By adding a telecare platform (GMV, Madrid, Spain), patients were able to train independently while still being monitored by a therapist. As part of a consortium with different stakeholders, UMCG was involved in the clinical part of the project, by testing the device with patients.

Research project "Improving arm function after a stroke" is part of researchgroup Extremities (Rehabilitation Medicine)


University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
PO Box 30.001
9700 RB Groningen
The Netherlands

Visiting address
University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Hanzeplein 1
9713 GZ Groningen

University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) - location Beatrixoord
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Dilgtweg 5
9751 ND Haren