Studies with children who have spastic hemiplegia caused by cerebral palsy suggest that wearing dynamic Lycra® orthoses as an adjunct to goal-directed training may improve movement and functional goal achievement.1 This evidence raises the question of whether the orthoses may be effective as an adjunct to rehabilitation in adults with arm impairments after stroke. Arm impairments, which include weakness and sensory loss, restrict independence in activities of daily living and affect stroke survivors’ quality of life.2
Dynamic Lycra® orthoses are commercially available dynamic braces that use tensile properties of Lycra® to generate torsion, correct muscle force imbalances across joints, optimize muscle length and functional positioning, and provide compression to enhance proprioception and sensory awareness.3,4 However, effectiveness in stroke rehabilitation has not been fully evaluated, despite anecdotal evidence that they are already in use in clinical practice. One single case study of 6 weeks wear in a survivor with long-standing stroke4 and a crossover trial with 16 stroke survivors 3–36 weeks after stroke onset3 involving only 3 hours orthosis wear have shown improvements in arm impairment, sensation and functional outcomes after orthosis wear. Evidence is therefore limited to low-quality study designs, and rigorous effectiveness studies are required.
The aim of this feasibility randomized controlled trial was to examine recruitment, retention, adverse events, intervention fidelity, magnitude and direction of difference in outcomes in stroke survivors receiving Lycra® orthoses as an adjunct to usual rehabilitation, compared to those receiving usual rehabilitation only. It also aimed to explore survivor and carer perceptions of acceptability, to inform decisions about a future definitive randomized controlled trial.[…]