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Physiother Res Int. 2000;5(4):230-40.

Is dosage of physiotherapy a critical factor in deciding patterns of recovery from stroke: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Centre for Health Services Studies, University of Kent at Canterbury, UK.



The best treatment and management of stroke patients has been shown to be in stroke units by multidisciplinary rehabilitation teams. Since the composition of stroke units differs it is important to know the extent to which the different components contribute to this results. Physiotherapy is one component of most rehabilitation teams and recent systematic reviews have shown that patients with stroke receiving more physiotherapy achieve more recovery from disability. However, information about the actual amounts of physiotherapy needed to achieve this result is not known.


A pragmatic, randomized, single-blind, controlled trial comparing recovery from disability in subjects receiving the current standard amount of 30 minutes' physiotherapy with those receiving double that amount (60 minutes). The study included measures of physical performance and function, psychological aspects of anxiety and depression, and perceived control over recovery.


Some 114 subjects were recruited to the study; full six-week data are available for 104 subjects and six-month data for 93 subjects. Comparison of initial to six-week difference scores in the control and intervention groups of the whole sample did not show a significant difference. Scrutiny of the recovery curves of the whole sample showed that, in half the sample, three distinct patterns of recovery were demonstrated.


These results suggest that doubling the physiotherapy time available for patients in a stroke unit will not provide a measurable benefit for all patients. The subgroup analysis of patterns of recovery must be regarded as speculative, but provides the basis for hypotheses about those likely to respond well to more intensive therapy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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