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BACKGROUND: Hand rehabilitation is core to helping stroke survivors regain activities of daily living. Recent studies have suggested that the use of electroencephalography-based brain-computer interfaces (BCI) can promote this process. Here, we report the first systematic examination of the literature on the use of BCI-robot systems for the rehabilitation of fine motor skills associated with hand movement and profile these systems from a technical and clinical perspective. METHODS: A search for January 2010-October 2019 articles using Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, PEDro, PsycINFO, IEEE Xplore and Cochrane Library databases was performed. The selection criteria included BCI-hand robotic systems for rehabilitation at different stages of development involving tests on healthy participants or people who have had a stroke. Data fields include those related to study design, participant characteristics, technical specifications of the system, and clinical outcome measures. RESULTS: 30 studies were identified as eligible for qualitative review and among these, 11 studies involved testing a BCI-hand robot on chronic and subacute stroke patients. Statistically significant improvements in motor assessment scores relative to controls were observed for three BCI-hand robot interventions. The degree of robot control for the majority of studies was limited to triggering the device to perform grasping or pinching movements using motor imagery. Most employed a combination of kinaesthetic and visual response via the robotic device and display screen, respectively, to match feedback to motor imagery. CONCLUSION: 19 out of 30 studies on BCI-robotic systems for hand rehabilitation report systems at prototype or pre-clinical stages of development. We identified large heterogeneity in reporting and emphasise the need to develop a standard protocol for assessing technical and clinical outcomes so that the necessary evidence base on efficiency and efficacy can be developed.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neuroeng Rehabil

Publication Date





Brain–computer interface, EEG, Motor imagery, Rehabilitation, Robotics, Stroke, Activities of Daily Living, Brain-Computer Interfaces, Female, Hand, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Skills, Robotics, Stroke Rehabilitation