Modified Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy is a feasible and potentially useful addition to the Community Rehabilitation tool kit after stroke: A pilot randomised control trial

Aust Occup Ther J. 2018 Dec;65(6):503-511. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12488. Epub 2018 Jun 19.


Background/aim: The National Stroke Foundation recommends that Occupational Therapists use Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) with stroke survivors that experience an upper limb deficit. CIMT involves constraining the unaffected upper limb coupled with intensive therapy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of a modified, low intensity version of CIMT (mCIMT) provided within usual resources of an Australian community rehabilitation setting.

Methods: A pilot randomised control trial (n = 19) was conducted with stroke survivors referred for community rehabilitation. Participants were randomly assigned to either mCIMT or usual care. Both groups received six one-hour outpatient Occupational Therapy sessions (focussed on upper limb rehabilitation) over a two-week period. The intervention group (mCIMT) were asked to wear a constraint device on their unaffected hand for 90% of their waking hours and were provided with a home exercise program based on CIMT principles. Participants were included if they had some active upper limb movement, no significant cognitive deficits and sufficient balance. Outcome measures included upper limb function (WMFT) and participation (MAL) evaluated at baseline, immediately following the two-week intervention period and at four-week follow-up.

Results: Only a very small proportion of patients met the eligibility criteria. There were no differences between groups, with the exception of a small increase in reported upper extremity use in functional tasks at post-intervention assessment when compared to the usual care group.

Conclusions: Modified CIMT can be applied to a typical Australian community rehabilitation setting, to treat upper limb deficits in stroke survivors. The resources used for mCIMT largely equalled usual care, with no differences in outcomes, suggesting that the intervention is feasible and potentially beneficial. However, there were very few stroke survivors who met participation criteria, indicating that demand for the intervention is limited.

Keywords: occupational therapy; stroke; stroke rehabilitation; stroke/therapy; upper extremity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia
  • Community Health Services / methods
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Therapy / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Recovery of Function
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stroke Rehabilitation / methods*
  • Upper Extremity / physiopathology*