Characterising Arm Recovery in People with Severe Stroke (CARPSS): Protocol for a 12-month observational study of clinical, neuroimaging and neurophysiological biomarkers

Kathryn S. Hayward, Keith R. Lohse, Julie Bernhardt, Catherine E. Lang, Lara A. Boyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction In individuals with early (indexed ≤7 days poststroke) and severe upper limb paresis (shoulder abduction and finger extension score of <5 out of 10), our objectives are to: (1) determine if biomarkers of brain structure and function collected at <1 month poststroke explain who will experience clinically important recovery over the first 12 months poststroke; (2) compare stroke survivors' perceptions of personally meaningful recovery to clinically important recovery; and (3) characterise the trajectory of change in measures of motor function, brain structure and function. Methods and analysis Prospective observational study with an inception cohort of 78 first-time stroke survivors. Participants will be recruited from a single, large tertiary stroke referral centre. Clinical and biomarker assessments will be completed at four follow-up time points: 2 to 4 weeks and 3, 6 and 12 months poststroke. Our primary outcome is achievement of clinically important improvement on two out of three measures that span impairment (Fugl-Meyer Upper Limb, change ≥10 points), activity (Motor Assessment Scale item 6, change ≥1 point) and participation (Rating of Everyday Arm-use in the Community and Home, change ≥1 point). Brain biomarkers of structure and function will be indexed using transcranial magnetic stimulation and MRI. Multilevel modelling will be performed to examine the relationship between clinically important recovery achieved (yes/no) and a priori defined brain biomarkers related to the corticospinal tract and corpus callosum. Secondary analyses will compare stroke survivor's perception of recovery, as well as real-world arm use via accelerometry, to the proposed metric of clinically meaningful recovery; and model trajectory of recovery across clinical, a priori defined biomarkers and exploratory variables related to functional connectivity. Ethics and dissemination Approved by the hospital and university ethics review boards. Results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations. Trial registration number NCT02464085.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere026435
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • stroke
  • stroke medicine


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