Exercises for paretic upper limb after stroke: A combined virtual-reality and telemedicine approach
Lamberto Piron, Andrea Turolla, Michela Agostini, Carla Zucconi, Feliciana Cortese, Mauro Zampolini, Mara Zannini, Mauro Dam, Laura Ventura, Michela Battauz, Paolo Tonin
Objective: Telerehabilitation enables a remotely controlled programme to be used to treat motor deficits in post-stroke patients. The effects of this telerehabilitation approach were compared with traditional motor rehabilitation methods.
Design: Randomized single-blind controlled trial.
Patients: A total of 36 patients with mild arm motor impairments due to ischaemic stroke in the region of the middle cerebral artery.
Methods: The experimental treatment was a virtual reality-based system delivered via the Internet, which provided motor tasks to the patients from a remote rehabilitation facility. The control group underwent traditional physical therapy for the upper limb. Both treatments were of 4 weeks duration. All patients were assessed one month prior to therapy, at the commencement and termination of therapies and one month post-therapy, with the Fugl-Meyer Upper Extremity, the ABILHAND and the Ashworth scales.
Results: Both rehabilitative therapies significantly improved all outcome scores after treatment, but only the Fugl-Meyer Upper Extremity scale showed differences in the comparison between groups.
Conclusion: Both strategies were effective, but the experimental approach induced better outcomes in motor performance. These results may favour early discharge from hospital sustained by a telerehabilitation programme, with potential beneficial effects on the use of available resources.