Action Observation of Motor Skills Followed by Immediate Sleep Enhances the Motor Rehabilitation of Older Adults With Stroke

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Background and Purpose:

Motor rehabilitation following stroke is a demanding challenge in search for new strategies to improve outcome. Rehabilitation through action observation has been reported beneficial for older adults recovering from stroke. Early sleep session following motor learning enhanced the performance of the acquired motor skills. The purpose of this study was to examine whether an early sleep session following action observation has benefit over action observation alone in the rehabilitation of older adults after stroke.


Twenty patients with paresis of dominant upper limb in first ischemic stroke were assigned to 2 study groups (10 subjects each). The participants were presented a 5-minute video film of phone operation. Participants of the intervention group had a sleep session of 90 to 120 minutes immediately following the film while control participants did not sleep. Identical procedure was repeated for 4 consecutive sessions (4 weeks). A single item of the Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory was used as rehabilitation's outcome measure.


During the 4 weeks of the study, the performances of both groups improved but the intervention group had higher Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory scores, as indicated by a significant session by group interaction (P < .001).


An early sleep session added to action observation therapy may significantly improve motor performances of patients with stroke. Further studies are required to support this method for inclusion in rehabilitation arsenal.

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