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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2004 Apr;85(4):620-8.

A randomized controlled comparison of upper-extremity rehabilitation strategies in acute stroke: A pilot study of immediate and long-term outcomes.

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Dept of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, University of Southern California, Health Sciences Campus, 1540 E Alcazar St, CHP 155, , Los Angeles, CA 90089-9006, USA.



To evaluate the immediate and long-term effects of 2 upper-extremity rehabilitation approaches for stroke compared with standard care in participants stratified by stroke severity.


Nonblinded, randomized controlled trial (baseline, postintervention, 9mo) design.


Inpatient rehabilitation hospital and outpatient clinic.


Sixty-four patients with recent stroke admitted for inpatient rehabilitation were randomized within severity strata (Orpington Prognostic Scale) into 1 of 3 intervention groups. Forty-four patients completed the 9-month follow-up.


Standard care (SC), functional task practice (FT), and strength training (ST). The FT and ST groups received 20 additional hours of upper-extremity therapy beyond standard care distributed over a 4- to 6-week period.


Performance measures of impairment (Fugl-Meyer Assessment), strength (isometric torque), and function (Functional Test of the Hemiparetic Upper Extremity [FTHUE]).


Compared with SC participants, those in the FT and ST groups had significantly greater increases in Fugl-Meyer motor scores (P=.04) and isometric torque (P=.02) posttreatment. Treatment benefit was primarily in the less severe participants, where improvement in FT and ST group Fugl-Meyer motor scores more than doubled that of the SC group. Similar results were found for the FTHEU and isometric torque. During the long term, at 9 months, the less severe FT group continued to make gains in isometric muscle torque, significantly exceeding those of the ST group (P<.05).


Task specificity and stroke severity are important factors for rehabilitation of arm use in acute stroke. Twenty hours of upper extremity-specific therapy over 4 to 6 weeks significantly affected functional outcomes. The immediate benefits of a functional task approach were similar to those of a resistance-strength approach, however, the former was more beneficial in the long-term.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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