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.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.