Introduction: Telerehabilitation has been promoted as a more efficient means of delivering rehabilitation services to stroke patients while also providing care options to those unable to attend conventional therapy. However, the application of telerehabilitation interventions in stroke populations has proven to be more challenging than anticipated, with many studies showing mixed results in terms of its efficacy. Six different clinical trials examining stroke telerehabilitation were initiated across Canada as part of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's 2013 Tele-Rehabilitation for Stroke Initiative, with interventions ranging from lifestyle coaching to delivering memory, speech, or physical training. The purpose of this article was to summarize the over-arching findings from this initiative, particularly the facilitators and barriers to the implementation of telerehabilitation services within a research context. Methods: Details of the projects were obtained directly from the study investigators and from materials published by each group. Qualitative open-ended questions were posed to each group for the discussion of lessons learned. Results: Important lessons learned from this initiative included: (1) the efficacy and cost of telerehabilitation is similar to that of traditional face-to-face management; (2) patients are satisfied with telerehabilitation services when trained appropriately and some social interaction occurs; (3) clinicians prefer face-to-face interactions but will use telerehabilitation when face-to-face is not feasible; and (4) technology should be selected based on ease of use and targeted to the skills and abilities of the users. Conclusions: Overall, results from these studies suggest that telerehabilitation services work best to augment face-to-face rehabilitation or when no other options are available.
Keywords: Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery; stroke; telerehabilitation.