Home-based stroke rehab beneficial, Foundation study shows
Dramatic improvements in the ability of patients to move their arms and hands after stroke might be achieved with a simple take-home exercise book, researchers funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation have found.
A total of 103 stroke patients in British Columbia were recruited for the four week program called Graded Repetitive Arm Supplementary Program (GRASP). It involves a series of arm and hand exercises that don’t require constant supervision by a therapist. This means the program can be continued easily at home after leaving hospital.
The program seems to work. Patients who participated had greater function of the arm and hand after four weeks than those in the control group and they maintained those benefits at the five-month follow-up.
The program uses an exercise book, including diagrams and written instructions, which helps patients learn to do things such as squeezing balls, holding bean bags, stacking blocks, pouring liquid and performing other everyday tasks like buttoning and folding clothes.
“The exercises sound very simple, but more than 70% of people with stroke find it difficult to use their hands and arms for daily tasks,” says Janice Eng, senior scientist at the Brain Research Centre in Vancouver and the lead author of the study. “The ease of this program allows for a much higher amount of physical therapy for patients recovering from stroke in hospital than could ordinarily be delivered one-on-one by physical therapists. It also has the benefit of providing a way for patients’ families to support the rehabilitation process.”
The four hospitals involved in the study are now incorporating the GRASP program into their regular patients care, either in the inpatient or outpatient setting. The researchers hope this program has the potential to be used in more B.C. hospitals, as well as all across Canada.
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Posted June 1, 2009
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