Pilot trial of a tele-rehab intervention to improve outcomes after stroke in Ghana: A feasibility and user satisfaction study

J Neurol Sci. 2018 Apr 15;387:94-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2018.01.039. Epub 2018 Feb 1.


Background: Tele-rehabilitation after stroke holds promise for under-resourced settings, especially sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with its immense stroke burden and severely limited physical therapy services.

Objective: To preliminarily assess the feasibility and outcomes of mobile technology-assisted physical therapy exercises for stroke survivors in Ghana.

Methods: We conducted a prospective, single arm, pre-post study involving 20 stroke survivors recruited from a tertiary medical center, who received a Smartphone with the 9zest Stroke App® to deliver individualized, goal-targeted 5-days-a-week exercise program that was remotely supervised by a tele-therapist for 12 weeks. Outcome measures included changes in stroke levity scale scores (SLS), Modified Rankin score (MRS), Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA), and feasibility indicators.

Results: Among study participants, mean ± SD age was 54.6 ± 10.2 years, 11 (55%) were men, average time from stroke onset was 6 months. No participants dropped out. Compared with baseline status, mean ± SD scores on SLS improved from 7.5 ± 3.1 to 11.8 ± 2.2 at month 1 (p < 0.0001) and 12.2 ± 2.4 at month 3 (p < 0.0001), MOCA scores improved from 18.2 ± 4.3 to 20.4 ± 4.7 at month 1 (p = 0.14), and 22.2 ± 7.6 at month 3 (p = 0.047). Mean ± SD weekly sessions performed by participants per month was 5.7 ± 5.8 and duration of sessions was 25.5 ± 16.2 min. Erratic internet connectivity negatively affected full compliance with the intervention, although satisfaction ratings by study participants were excellent.

Conclusion: It is feasible to administer an m-health delivered physical therapy intervention in SSA, with high user satisfaction. Randomized trials to assess the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of this intervention are warranted.

Keywords: Disability; Feasibility; Ghana; M-health; Post-stroke rehabilitation; Resource-limited; Stroke survivors; Tele-rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Ghana / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stroke Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / epidemiology
  • Telerehabilitation / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome*