A major debilitating factor of sustaining a cervical level spinal cord injury is the loss of
independence in completing activities of daily living as a result of impaired upper limb
function. Early intervention has been hypothesised to preserve upper limb function in this
population and enhance capacity to perform functional tasks. The use of robotics as an upper
limb therapy modality is increasing in the neurorehabilitation field, however there is limited
evidence to support their use in the cervical spinal cord injury population. Despite this,
occupational therapists are using them as part of a therapy program.
Aim: This study aimed to explore the upper limb outcomes of using a computer assisted
robotic device in acute therapy for people who have sustained a cervical spinal cord injury.
Methods: A single case pre-post study design was performed with one middle aged male who
had who was an inpatient at a public metropolitan hospital in Australia. They undertook a
three week therapy program using the Diego by Tyromotion in conjunction with standard
occupational therapy interventions. Range of motion, muscular strength, pain, fatigue the
Spinal Cord Independence Measure, and the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure
were used as outcome measures.
Results: Increases were seen in range of motion and muscular strength and functional status;
objective and subjectively.
Conclusion: Preliminary findings suggest that the Diego may be a useful tool for improving
upper limb outcomes when combined with occupational therapy in this population, however
greater research and participants are required for definitive data.