Previous studies suggested that both robot-assisted rehabilitation and non-invasive vagus
nerve stimulation can improve upper limb function in chronic stroke patients. Aim of present
study is to explore whether the combination of these two approaches might enhance their
positive effects on motor recovery. Safety and efficacy of this combination will be assessed
within a proof-of-principle, double-blinded, randomized, sham-controlled trial.
Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) will be delivered at left ear, in order to
improve the response to the following robot-assisted therapy. Patients with both ischemic and
hemorrhagic chronic stroke will be randomized to robot-assisted therapy associated with real
or sham tVNS, delivered for 10 working days. Change in Fugl-Meyer has been chosen as primary
outcome, while changes in several quantitative indicators of motor performance extracted by
the robot as secondary outcomes.