Many stroke survivors report that services do not pay enough attention to loss of arm movement, which affects about 85% of people after a stroke, and has a large impact on their quality of life.
Studies also suggest that arm rehabilitation exercises are beneficial, as long as they are targeted at important activities for the stroke survivor’s recovery, such as washing and dressing.
There are a number of therapy programmes that stroke patients can complete by themselves with regular checks by a therapist. However, as many who start regular exercise realise, it can be very difficult to monitor ones progress and to stay motivated.
This study will investigate the use of a special wristwatch worn during arm rehabilitation exercise. It monitors the amount of exercise, and also prompts users to increase exercise intensity if they are not performing them intensely enough (it vibrates, can flash, or beep).
Although movement sensors have already been used to measure arm movement during rehabilitation exercise, this is the very first time a device prompts users as encouragement. The research will involve the participation of stroke survivors within 2 weeks of having their stroke, and consist of twice-daily, arm rehabilitation exercise that lasts 4 weeks.
The main experiment will consist of a ‘pilot’ randomised-controlled-trial (RCT) of 60 patients. Half of these patients will perform arm rehabilitation exercise with the wristwatch measuring their activity only. For the other half, the wristwatch will also prompt users to increase their activity if it has fallen below a specific level set for each patient.
If successful, the study hopes to show that ‘prompting’ from the wristwatch improves arm rehabilitation exercise performance. The wider aims are to be able to add such devices to a range of arm rehabilitation programmes to maximise their benefit, and for their use to become embedded in clinical rehabilitation services.