High-intensity repetitive rehabilitation exercises can significantly help stroke survivors improve functioning in their paralysed arm even years after their disabling event, a new study has found.

The study showed that survivors who had 12 weeks of either robot- or human-assisted therapy had improved arm function and better quality of life six months on compared to survivors with no additional therapy.

Brown University in Providence assistant professor of neurology Albert C Lo, who led the study, said that these findings offer a potential new therapy for stroke survivors.

“The findings are particularly important because there is still a widely held belief among physicians that very little recovery can occur beyond the first six or 12 months after a stroke,” Lo said.

The study was conducted on 127 VA patients (96% males; average age 65) whose paralysing stroke had occurred an average of 56 months before enrollment.

49 patients were randomly assigned robot-assisted therapy, 50 human-assisted intensive-comparative therapy and 28 usual care.

At 12 weeks, none of the groups showed significant improvement in motor function but at 36 weeks, robot-assisted therapy and intensive-comparative therapy proved significantly superior to usual care.