Nerve Stimulation Enhances Task-Oriented Training for Moderate-to-Severe Hemiparesis 3–12 Months After Stroke: A Randomized Trial

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ObjectiveThe aim of the study was to determine whether somatosensory stimulation affects outcomes of motor training for moderate-to-severe upper limb hemiparesis less than 12 mos before stroke.DesignFifty-five adults participated in 18 intervention sessions pairing 2 hours of active (n = 33) or sham (n = 22) somatosensory stimulation with 4 hours of intensive task-oriented motor training. Wolf Motor Function Test, Action Research Arm Test, Fugl-Meyer Assessment, and Stroke Impact Scale were administered at baseline, postintervention, and 1- and 4-mo follow-up.ResultsStatistically significant between-groups differences favored the active condition on Wolf Motor Function Test at post (P = 0.04) and Action Research Arm Test at post (P = 0.02), 1 mo (P = 0.01), and 4 mos (P = 0.01) but favored the sham condition on Stroke Impact Scale at 1 mo (P = 0.03). There were no significant between-groups differences on Fugl-Meyer Assessment.ConclusionsSomatosensory stimulation can improve objective outcomes of motor training for moderate-to-severe hemiparesis less than 12 mos after stroke, although it needs to be determined whether the magnitude of between-groups differences in this study is clinically relevant. Future studies should investigate the intervention's impact on disability and functional recovery for this population as well as neurophysiological mechanisms underlying intervention effects.

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