Tele-rehabilitation of upper-extremity hemiparesis after stroke: Proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial of in-home Constraint-Induced Movement therapy

Academic Article


  • Background: Although Constraint-Induced Movement therapy (CIMT) has been deemed efficacious for adults with persistent, mild-to-moderate, post-stroke upper-extremity hemiparesis, CIMT is not available on a widespread clinical basis. Impediments include its cost and travel to multiple therapy appointments. To overcome these barriers, we developed an automated, tele-health form of CIMT. Objective: Determine whether in-home, tele-health CIMT has outcomes as good as in-clinic, face-to-face CIMT in adults ≥1-year post-stroke with mild-to-moderate upper-extremity hemiparesis. Methods: Twenty-four stroke patients with chronic upper-arm extremity hemiparesis were randomly assigned to tele-health CIMT (Tele-AutoCITE) or in-lab CIMT. All received 35 hours of treatment. In the tele-health group, an automated, upper-extremity workstation with built-in sensors and video cameras was set-up in participants' homes. Internet-based audio-visual and data links permitted supervision of treatment by a trainer in the lab. Results: Ten patients in each group completed treatment. All twenty, on average, showed very large improvements immediately afterwards in everyday use of the more-affected arm (mean change on Motor Activity Log Arm Use scale = 2.5 points, p < 0.001, d′ = 3.1). After one-year, a large improvement from baseline was still present (mean change = 1.8, p < 0.001, d′ = 2). Post-treatment outcomes in the tele-health group were not inferior to those in the in-lab group. Neither were participants' perceptions of satisfaction with and difficulty of the interventions. Although everyday arm use was similar in the two groups after one-year (mean difference = -0.1, 95% CI = -1.3-1.0), reductions in the precision of the estimates of this parameter due to drop-out over follow-up did not permit ruling out that the tele-health group had an inferior long-term outcome. Conclusions: This proof-of-concept study suggests that Tele-AutoCITE produces immediate benefits that are equivalent to those after in-lab CIMT in stroke survivors with chronic upper-arm extremity hemiparesis. Cost savings possible with this tele-health approach remain to be evaluated.
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    Author List

  • Uswatte G; Taub E; Lum P; Brennan D; Barman J; Bowman MH; Taylor A; McKay S; Sloman SB; Morris DM
  • Start Page

  • 303
  • End Page

  • 318
  • Volume

  • 39
  • Issue

  • 4