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Restore a lost function is a special experience for people affected by neuromuscular evolutive diseases as muscular dystrophy. Upper limb stiffness and activity limitations have a crucial role in reducing patients’ autonomy and worsening quality of life. Even if the commercial products might assure a benefit to some users and meet most of their requirements, so far a validation of the use of such devices by people with neuromuscular diseases is missing. We aim at field-testing the improvement in arm functions provided by the use of two commercial devices (Jaeco Wrex and Armon Ayura) and assessing their impact on users’ quality of life and independence. This step is essential to assure a widespread access to these devices for most of the potential users, possibly presenting direction and guidance to health providers. The results acquired from the first three subjects, with a different disease progression, showed that the functional improvements gained with the use of these exoskeletons are limited and largely depends on the user’s impairment. Results showed that if the patient is severely impaired, the exoskeletons are not sufficient to gain functional movements. In contrast, if the patient is moderately impaired, both devices help the subject, even if some limitations of the movements occur. Finally, if the subject is slightly impaired, both devices decrease the performance. However, all the patients have appreciated the good usability of both devices.
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PUL provides an overall score capable of characterizing motor performances of the upper limb in multiple tasks or “items", the protocol can assess the three major level dimensions (shoulder, elbow, and wrist levels).
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- Clinical Benefits and Acceptability of Two Commercial Arm Exoskeletons for Patients with Muscular Dystrophy