Published: Tuesday 8 September 2015
Partial paralysis of the arm, typically on just one side, affects about 85% of stroke survivors. It can affect a person’s ability to wash, dress or feed themselves, and can greatly reduce their independence.
On Friday, new research in this field was published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation. The study was based at the University of the West of England, and funded by the Stroke Association.
It showed that a home-based programme of intensive, task-specific reaching and grasping exercises was acceptable to stroke survivors to do, and feasible for them to perform with their affected arm.
Thanks to these positive findings, the next step will be for the researchers to collaborate with other reseach groups, and conduct larger randomised trials to assess the effectiveness of the exercise programme.
If successful, these trials could provide evidence for improved recovery for stroke survivors through this therapy, and uptake by the international stroke rehabilitation community.
What did the study involve?
Twenty four people with a wide range of upper limb impairment took part. The exercise intervention consisted of 14, one hour long, visits from a therapist, over six weeks. The participants were also expected to put in extra practice on their own every day.
Dr Ailie Turton, of the University of the West of England and author on the study, said:
"Much like a sports coach, the therapist encourages lots of repetitions of various arm and hand actions to promote improved reaching and grasping performance.
On average participants achieved over 150 repetitions of actions within the therapist's visits. Most of the participants reported better use of the arm after the training. They reported functional gains, such as being able to put on and take off a wheelchair brake and put on socks and tie shoe laces, or brush hair."
The Stroke Association are delighted to have supported this crucial research, and we look forward to seeing further exciting outcomes as result of this initial trial.
For more lay information on the work behind this research study, read the Final Report Summary.