Feedback and Cognition in Arm Motor Skill Reacquisition After Stroke

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Background and Purpose—A debated subject in stroke rehabilitation relates to the best type of training approach for motor recovery. First, we analyzed the effects of repetitive movement practice in 2 feedback conditions (knowledge of results [KR]; knowledge of performance, [KP]) on reacquisition of reaching. Second, we evaluated the impact of cognitive impairment on motor relearning ability.Methods—A randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted in Montreal-area rehabilitation centers between 1998 and 2003 with 37 patients with chronic hemiparesis. Patients were randomly assigned to 3 groups: (1) KR (n=14) practiced a reaching task involving 75 repetitions per day, 5 days per week for 2 weeks, with 20% KR about movement precision; (2) KP (n=14) trained on the same task and schedule as KR but with faded KP about joint motions; and (3) control (C; n=9) practiced a nonreaching task. Physical (motor impairment, function) and kinematic (movement time, precision, segmentation, variability) variables were assessed before and after (immediately, 1 month) practice. Cognitive functions (memory, attention, mental flexibility, planning) were also evaluated.Results—Kinematic gains in KR (precision) and KP (time, variability) exceeded those in C and depended on memory and mental flexibility deficits. In KP, more severely impaired patients made the most clinical gains (>2×C), which were related to memory and planning abilities.Conclusions—Use of KP during repetitive movement practice resulted in better motor outcomes. Stroke severity together with cognitive impairments are important factors for choosing motor rehabilitation interventions after stroke.

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