Observation of Amounts of Movement Practice Provided During Stroke Rehabilitation

Catherine E. Lang, Jillian R. MacDonald, Darcy S. Reisman, Lara Boyd, Teresa Jacobson Kimberley, Sheila M. Schindler-Ivens, T. George Hornby, Sandy A. Ross, Patricia L. Scheets

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Lang CE, MacDonald JR, Reisman DS, Boyd L, Jacobson Kimberley T, Schindler-Ivens SM, Hornby TG, Ross SA, Scheets PL. Observation of amounts of movement practice provided during stroke rehabilitation. Objective: To investigate how much movement practice occurred during stroke rehabilitation, and what factors might influence doses of practice provided. Design: Observational survey of stroke therapy sessions. Setting: Seven inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation sites. Participants: We observed a convenience sample of 312 physical and occupational therapy sessions for people with stroke. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: We recorded numbers of repetitions in specific movement categories and data on potential modifying factors (patient age, side affected, time since stroke, FIM item scores, years of therapist experience). Descriptive statistics were used to characterize amounts of practice. Correlation and regression analyses were used to determine whether potential factors were related to the amount of practice in the 2 important categories of upper extremity functional movements and gait steps. Results: Practice of task-specific, functional upper extremity movements occurred in 51% of the sessions that addressed upper limb rehabilitation, and the average number of repetitions/session was 32 (95% confidence interval [CI]=20-44). Practice of gait occurred in 84% of sessions that addressed lower limb rehabilitation and the average number of gait steps/session was 357 (95% CI=296-418). None of the potential factors listed accounted for significant variance in the amount of practice in either of these 2 categories. Conclusions: The amount of practice provided during poststroke rehabilitation is small compared with animal models. It is possible that current doses of task-specific practice during rehabilitation are not adequate to drive the neural reorganization needed to promote function poststroke optimally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1692-1698
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Occupational therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke


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