Current practice and clinical relevance of somatosensory assessment after stroke

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ObjectiveTo examine the perceived clinical relevance, current practice and knowledge of somatosensory testing in three professional groups involved in the management and rehabilitation of stroke.DesignStructured postal questionnaire sent to therapists and doctors.SubjectsOne hundred and eighty occupational therapists from the National Association of Neurological Occupational Therapists (NANOT), 180 physiotherapists from the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists with an Interest in Neurology (ACPIN) and 360 doctors from the Association of British Neurologists (ABN) and the British Geriatrics Society (BSG).SettingHospitals and rehabilitation centres in the UK.ResultsReplies were obtained from 84 occupational therapists (47%), 98 physiotherapists (55%) and 78 doctors (22%). Sixty-four occupational therapists (77%), 82 physiotherapists (84%) and 66 doctors (87%) indicated that they routinely performed somatosensory assessment as part of their clinical assessment. The two most commonly used measures were proprioception and light touch. Seventy-eight occupational therapists (93%), 88 physiotherapists (90%) and 67 doctors (91%) regarded sensory assessment as clinically significant in determining prognosis after stroke.ConclusionsDespite published reservations concerning its usefulness and reliability, most therapists and doctors routinely assess somatosensory loss after stroke. All three professions agreed that somatosensory testing presented useful information for prognosis. Furthermore, all professional groups believe somatosensory assessment to be clinically relevant.

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