Telerehabilitation and recovery of motor function: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Telemed Telecare. 2015 Jun;21(4):202-13. doi: 10.1177/1357633X15572201. Epub 2015 Feb 22.


Recent advances in telecommunication technologies have boosted the possibility to deliver rehabilitation via the internet (i.e. telerehabilitation). Several studies have shown that telerehabilitation is effective to improve clinical outcomes in disabling conditions. The aim of this review was to determine whether telerehabilitation was more effective than other modes of delivering rehabilitation to regain motor function, in different populations of patients.We searched PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane library retrieving 2360 records. Twelve studies were included involving different populations (i.e. neurological, total knee arthroplasty (TKA), cardiac) of patients. Inconclusive finding were found on the effect of telerehabilitation for neurological patients (SMD = 0.08, CI 95% = -0.13, 0.29), while both for cardiac (SMD = 0.24, CI 95% = 0.04, 0.43) and TKA patients (Timed Up and Go test: MD = -5.17, CI 95% = -9.79, -0.55) the results were in favour of telerehabilitation.Conclusive evidence on the efficacy of telerehabilitation for treatment of motor function, regardless of pathology, was not reached. Nevertheless, a strong positive effect was found for patients following orthopaedic surgery, suggesting that the increased intensity provided by telerehabilitation is a promising option to be offered to patients. More and higher quality research is needed in this field especially with neurological patients.

Keywords: Telerehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee / rehabilitation
  • Heart Failure / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Telerehabilitation / methods*