Home-based (virtual) rehabilitation improves motor and cognitive function for stroke patients: a randomized controlled trial of the Elements (EDNA-22) system

J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2021 Nov 25;18(1):165. doi: 10.1186/s12984-021-00956-7.


Background: Home-based rehabilitation of arm function is a significant gap in service provision for adult stroke. The EDNA-22 tablet is a portable virtual rehabilitation-based system that provides a viable option for home-based rehabilitation using a suite of tailored movement tasks, and performance monitoring via cloud computing data storage. The study reported here aimed to compare use of the EDNA system with an active control (Graded Repetitive Arm Supplementary Program-GRASP training) group using a parallel RCT design.

Methods: Of 19 originally randomized, 17 acute-care patients with upper-extremity dysfunction following unilateral stroke completed training in either the treatment (n = 10) or active control groups (n = 7), each receiving 8-weeks of in-home training involving 30-min sessions scheduled 3-4 times weekly. Performance was assessed across motor, cognitive and functional behaviour in the home. Primary motor measures, collected by a blinded assessor, were the Box and Blocks Task (BBT) and 9-Hole Pegboard Test (9HPT), and for cognition the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). Functional behaviour was assessed using the Stroke Impact Scale (SIS) and Neurobehavioural Functioning Inventory (NFI).

Results: One participant from each group withdrew for personal reasons. No adverse events were reported. Results showed a significant and large improvement in performance on the BBT for the more-affected hand in the EDNA training group, only (g = 0.90). There was a mild-to-moderate effect of training on the 9HPT for EDNA (g = 0.55) and control (g = 0.42) groups, again for the more affected hand. In relation to cognition, performance on the MoCA improved for the EDNA group (g = 0.70). Finally, the EDNA group showed moderate (but non-significant) improvement in functional behaviour on the SIS (g = 0.57) and NFI (g = 0.49).

Conclusion: A short course of home-based training using the EDNA-22 system can yield significant gains in motor and cognitive performance, over and above an active control training that also targets upper-limb function. Intriguingly, these changes in performance were corroborated only tentatively in the reports of caregivers. We suggest that future research consider how the implementation of home-based rehabilitation technology can be optimized. We contend that self-administered digitally-enhanced training needs to become part of the health literacy of all stakeholders who are impacted by stroke and other acquired brain injuries. Trial registration Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) Number: ACTRN12619001557123. Registered 12 November 2019, http://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=378298&isReview=true.

Keywords: Cognition; Motor activity; Rehabilitation; Stroke; Upper extremity; Virtual rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Cognition
  • Humans
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stroke Rehabilitation* / methods
  • Stroke*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Upper Extremity

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12619001557123