Objective: To compare the effects of contralesional sensory cueing and limb activation with that of sham control in the treatment of unilateral neglect after stroke.
Design: A randomized, single-blinded, sham-controlled pilot study.
Setting: Two rehabilitation hospitals.
Subjects: Forty subacute left hemiplegic stroke inpatients with unilateral neglect.
Interventions: Participants were assigned randomly to 1 of 2 groups. The experimental group wore a wristwatch cueing device over the hemiplegic arm for three hours a day, five days per week, for three weeks, and also underwent conventional rehabilitation. Patients were encouraged to move their hemiplegic arm five consecutive times after each prompt. The sham group underwent the same rehabilitation process, except they wore a sham device.
Main measures: Neglect, arm motor performance, and overall functioning were assessed pre- and posttraining, and at follow-up.
Results: There were no significant differences between groups in outcome measures except the neglect drawing tasks (p = 0.034) (the mean gain score from baseline to follow-up assessment was 5.2 (3.7) in the experimental group and 1.9 (3.5) in the sham group), across three time intervals. The experimental group showed greater improvement in arm motor performance than did the sham group.
Conclusion: The results did not confirm that sensory cueing and limb activation treatment is effective when compared with those receiving placebo to reduce unilateral neglect, but it might be useful for promoting hemiplegic arm performance in stroke patients.
Keywords: Sensory cueing; hemiplegic upper extremity; limb activation; subacute stroke; unilateral neglect.