Repetitive task training for improving functional ability after stroke

French, Beverley, Thomas, Lois Helene orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5218-6546, Leathley, Michael John, Sutton, Chris J orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6406-1318, Mcadam, Joanna, Forster, Anne, Langhorne, Peter, Price, Christopher, Walker, Andrew et al (2007) Repetitive task training for improving functional ability after stroke. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4 . CD006073. ISSN 1464-780X

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Background: The active practice of task-specific motor activities is a component of current approaches to stroke rehabilitation. Objectives: To determine if repetitive task training after stroke improves global, upper or lower limb function, and if treatment effects are dependent on the amount, type or timing of practice. Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Stroke Trials Register (October 2006), The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, SportDiscus, Science Citation Index, Index to Theses, ZETOC, PEDro, and OT Seeker (to September 2006), and OT search (to March 2006). We also searched for unpublished/non-English language trials, conference proceedings, combed reference lists, requested information on bulletin boards, and contacted trial authors. Selection criteria: Randomised/quasi-randomised trials in adults after stroke, where the intervention was an active motor sequence performed repetitively within a single training session, aimed towards a clear functional goal, and where the amount of practice could be quantified. Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently screened abstracts, extracted data and appraised trials. Assessment of methodological quality was undertaken for allocation concealment, blinding, loss to follow up and equivalence of treatment. We contacted trial authors for additional information. Main results: Fourteen trials with 17 intervention-control pairs and 659 participants were included. Primary outcomes: results were statistically significant for walking distance (mean difference (MD) 54.6, 95% CI 17.5 to 91.7); walking speed (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.29, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.53); sit-to-stand (standard effect estimate 0.35, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.56); and of borderline statistical significance for functional ambulation (SMD 0.25, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.51), and global motor function (SMD 0.32, 95% CI -0.01 to 0.66). There were no statistically significant differences for hand/arm function, or sitting balance/reach. Secondary outcomes: results were statistically significant for activities of daily living (SMD 0.29, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.51), but not for quality of life or impairment measures. There was no evidence of adverse effects. Follow-up measures were not significant for any outcome at six or twelve months. Treatment effects were not modified by intervention amount or timing, but were modified by intervention type for lower limbs. Authors' conclusions: Repetitive task training resulted inmodest improvement in lower limb function, but not upper limb function. Training may be sufficient to impact on daily living function. However, there is no evidence that improvements are sustained once training has ended. The review potentially investigates task specificity rather more than repetition. Further research should focus on the type and amount of training, and how to maintain functional gain.

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