Background and Purpose—
More than 70% of individuals who have a stroke experience upper limb deficits that impact daily activities. Increased amount of upper limb therapy has positive effects; however, practical and inexpensive methods of therapy are needed to deliver this increase in therapy.
This was a multi-site single blind randomized controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of a 4-week self-administered graded repetitive upper limb supplementary program (GRASP) on arm recovery in stroke. 103 inpatients with stroke were randomized to the experimental group (GRASP group, n=53) or the control group (education protocol, n=50). The primary outcome measure was the Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory (CAHAI), a measure of upper limb function in activities of daily living. Secondary measures were used to evaluate grip strength and paretic upper limb use outside of therapy time. Intention-to-treat analysis was performed. Group differences were tested using analysis of covariance.
At the end of the 4-week intervention (approximately 7 weeks poststroke), the GRASP group showed greater improvement in upper limb function (CAHAI) compared to the control group (mean difference 6.2; 95% CI: 3.4 to 9.0;
<0.001). The GRASP group maintained this significant gain at 5 months poststroke. Significant differences were also found in favor of the GRASP protocol for grip strength and paretic upper limb use. No serious adverse effects were experienced.
A self-administered homework exercise program provides a cost-, time-, and treatment-effective delivery model for improving upper limb recovery in subacute stroke.