Current therapy for the upper limb after stroke: a cross-sectional survey of UK therapists

Stockley, Rachel orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4441-6860, Peel, Rosemary orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0784-9392, Jarvis, Kathryn orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5963-7346 and Connell, Louise orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0629-2919 (2019) Current therapy for the upper limb after stroke: a cross-sectional survey of UK therapists. BMJ Open, 9 (9). e030262. ISSN 2044-6055

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Objectives To survey the reported content, frequency and duration of upper limb treatment provided by occupational and physiotherapists for people after stroke in the UK.Design A cross-sectional online survey was used. Description and analysis of the data were based on items from the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (Who, Where, What and How much).Setting The online survey was distributed via professional and social networks to UK-based therapists.Participants Respondents were occupational or physiotherapists currently working clinically in the UK with people after stroke. Over the 6week data collection period, 156 respondents opened the survey, and 154 completed it. Respondents comprised 85 physiotherapists and 69 occupational therapists.results Respondents reported treating the upper limb a median of three times a week (range: 1 to 7) for a mean of 29min (SD: 18). Most (n=110) stated this was supplemented by rehabilitation assistants, family and/or carers providing additional therapy a median of three times a week (range 1 to 7). Functional training was the most commonly reported treatment for people with mild and moderate upper limb deficits (>40%). There was much less consistency in treatments reported for people with severe upper limb deficits with less than 20% (n=28) reporting the same treatments.Conclusions This study provides a contemporaneous description of reported therapy in the UK for people with upper limb deficits after stroke and a detailed template to inform standard therapy interventions in future research. Several evidence-based therapies were reported to be used by respondents (eg, constraint induced movement therapy), but others were not (eg, mental imagery). The findings also highlight that the current reported provision of upper limb therapy is markedly less than what is likely to be effective. This underlines an urgent need to configure and fund services to empower therapists to deliver greater amounts of evidence-based treatment for people with upper limb deficits after stroke.

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