A robot goes to rehab: a novel gamified system for long-term stroke rehabilitation using a socially assistive robot—methodology and usability testing

Ronit Feingold-Polak, Oren Barzel, Shelly Levy-Tzedek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Socially assistive robots (SARs) have been proposed as a tool to help individuals who have had a stroke to perform their exercise during their rehabilitation process. Yet, to date, there are no data on the motivating benefit of SARs in a long-term interaction with post-stroke patients. Methods: Here, we describe a robot-based gamified exercise platform, which we developed for long-term post-stroke rehabilitation. The platform uses the humanoid robot Pepper, and also has a computer-based configuration (with no robot). It includes seven gamified sets of exercises, which are based on functional tasks from the everyday life of the patients. The platform gives the patients instructions, as well as feedback on their performance, and can track their performance over time. We performed a long-term patient-usability study, where 24 post-stroke patients were randomly allocated to exercise with this platform—either with the robot or the computer configuration—over a 5–7 week period, 3 times per week, for a total of 306 sessions. Results: The participants in both groups reported that this rehabilitation platform addressed their arm rehabilitation needs, and they expressed their desire to continue training with it even after the study ended. We found a trend for higher acceptance of the system by the participants in the robot group on all parameters; however, this difference was not significant. We found that system failures did not affect the long-term trust that users felt towards the system. Conclusions: We demonstrated the usability of using this platform for a long-term rehabilitation with post-stroke patients in a clinical setting. We found high levels of acceptance of both platform configurations by patients following this interaction, with higher ratings given to the SAR configuration. We show that it is not the mere use of technology that increases the motivation of the person to practice, but rather it is the appreciation of the technology’s effectiveness and its perceived contribution to the rehabilitation process. In addition, we provide a list of guidelines that can be used when designing and implementing other technological tools for rehabilitation. Trial registration: This trial is registered in the NIH ClinicalTrials.gov database. Registration number NCT03651063, registration date 21.08.2018. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03651063.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number122
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Co-design
  • Exergames
  • In-the-wild-study
  • Participatory design
  • Rehabilitation
  • Socially assistive robots
  • Stroke
  • Trust

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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