Long-term rehabilitation for chronic stroke arm movements: a randomized controlled trial

Clin Rehabil. 2011 Dec;25(12):1086-96. doi: 10.1177/0269215511410580. Epub 2011 Jul 25.


Objective: We investigated the effect of long-term practice on motor improvements in chronic stroke patients.

Design: Randomized parallel group controlled study.

Setting: Motor Behavior Laboratory, University of Florida.

Subjects: Eighteen individuals who experienced a stroke more than nine months prior to enrolling.

Interventions: The treatment interventions were bilateral arm movements coupled with active neuromuscular stimulation on the impaired arm for both practice duration groups. The short-term group received one treatment protocol, whereas, over 16 months, the long-term practice group completed 10 treatment protocols. All protocol sessions were 6 hours long (90 minutes 1 day/week/4 weeks) and were separated by 22 days.

Main outcome measures: Repeated data collection on three primary outcome measures (i.e. Box and Block test, fractionated reaction times, and sustained force production) evaluated motor capabilities across rehabilitation times.

Results: Mixed design ANOVAs (Group × Retention Test: 2 × 4; Group × Retention Test × Arm Condition: 2 × 4 × 2) revealed improved motor capabilities for the long-term practice duration group on each primary measure. At the 16-month delayed retention test, when compared to the short-term group, the long-term group demonstrated: (a) more blocks moved (43 v 32), (b) faster premotor reaction times (158 v 208 ms), and (c) higher force production (75 v 45 N).

Conclusion: Sixty hours of rehabilitation over 16 months provided by various bilateral arm movements and coupled active stimulation improved motor capabilities in chronic stroke.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arm*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy* / methods
  • Humans
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Time Factors