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In Frontiers in robotics and AI

Objective: To characterize a socially active humanoid robot's therapeutic interaction as a therapeutic assistant when providing arm rehabilitation (i.e., arm basis training (ABT) for moderate-to-severe arm paresis or arm ability training (AAT) for mild arm paresis) to stroke survivors when using the digital therapeutic system Evidence-Based Robot-Assistant in Neurorehabilitation (E-BRAiN) and to compare it to human therapists' interaction. Methods: Participants and therapy: Seventeen stroke survivors receiving arm rehabilitation (i.e., ABT [n = 9] or AAT [n = 8]) using E-BRAiN over a course of nine sessions and twenty-one other stroke survivors receiving arm rehabilitation sessions (i.e., ABT [n = 6] or AAT [n = 15]) in a conventional 1:1 therapist-patient setting. Analysis of therapeutic interaction: Therapy sessions were videotaped, and all therapeutic interactions (information provision, feedback, and bond-related interaction) were documented offline both in terms of their frequency of occurrence and time used for the respective type of interaction using the instrument THER-I-ACT. Statistical analyses: The therapeutic interaction of the humanoid robot, supervising staff/therapists, and helpers on day 1 is reported as mean across subjects for each type of therapy (i.e., ABT and AAT) as descriptive statistics. Effects of time (day 1 vs. day 9) on the humanoid robot interaction were analyzed by repeated-measures analysis of variance (rmANOVA) together with the between-subject factor type of therapy (ABT vs. AAT). The between-subject effect of the agent (humanoid robot vs. human therapist; day 1) was analyzed together with the factor therapy (ABT vs. AAT) by ANOVA. Main results and interpretation: The overall pattern of the therapeutic interaction by the humanoid robot was comprehensive and varied considerably with the type of therapy (as clinically indicated and intended), largely comparable to human therapists' interaction, and adapted according to needs for interaction over time. Even substantially long robot-assisted therapy sessions seemed acceptable to stroke survivors and promoted engaged patients' training behavior. Conclusion: Humanoid robot interaction as implemented in the digital system E-BRAiN matches the human therapeutic interaction and its modification across therapies well and promotes engaged training behavior by patients. These characteristics support its clinical use as a therapeutic assistant and, hence, its application to support specific and intensive restorative training for stroke survivors.

Platz Thomas, Pedersen Ann Louise, Deutsch Philipp, Umlauft Alexandru-Nicolae, Bader Sebastian


arm, artificial intelligence, interaction, robot, social, stroke, training