Public Release: 

At-home rehab comparable to clinic-based therapy to improve mobility

American Stroke Association Late Breaking News Brief - Abstract LB 23, Session MEIII Closing Main Event

American Heart Association

HONOLULU, Feb. 8, 2019 -- Home-based telerehabilitation is just as effective as clinic-based therapy at restoring arm function among stroke survivors, according to late-breaking science presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019, a world premier meeting dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease for researchers and clinicians.

"Many patients receive suboptimal rehabilitation therapy doses after stroke due to limited access to therapists and difficulty with transportation," said the study's lead author Steven C. Cramer, M.D., M.M.Sc., a professor of Neurology, Anatomy & Neurobiology, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at University of California Irvine. "This can be addressed by telehealth, which enables patients to access high doses of rehabilitation therapy in their home."

Researchers conducted a randomized, assessor-blinded, non-inferiority trial with 124 stroke survivors (average age 61) at 11 U.S. StrokeNet Clinical Trial Network sites. Survivors underwent six weeks of intensive rehabilitation therapy targeting arm weakness. Each was randomized to receive therapy either in the clinic using traditional methods or in their home using a telerehabilitation system.

"A computer-based telerehabilitation system delivered to patient's homes uses "game-ified" therapy activities, exercises and educational sessions (such as "Stroke Jeopardy"). Therapists can assess progress via videoconference. In clinic-based therapy, patients drive to the clinic and perform standard exercises and therapeutic activities with a therapist without a computer and without game-ification of these activities," Cramer explained.

Compliance was high and similar between both groups. Arm function improved substantially and equivalently in both groups.

"We demonstrated that home-based telehealth methods provide comparable benefits to traditional in-clinic methods," Cramer said. "In the future, telehealth approaches to post-stroke rehabilitation might help patients reduce disability by accessing large doses of therapy."

###

Co-authors are from The NIH StrokeNet Telerehab. Investigators and author disclosures are listed on the abstract.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

Note: Scientific presentation is 12:17 p.m. Hawaii Time/5:17 p.m. Eastern Time, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

Additional Resources:

Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.

About the American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke -- the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit StrokeAssociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.