Posts Tagged systematic review

[Abstract] The Effect of Noninvasive Brain Stimulation on Poststroke Cognitive Function: A Systematic Review


Introduction. Cognitive impairment after stroke has been associated with lower quality of life and independence in the long run, stressing the need for methods that target impairment for cognitive rehabilitation. The use of noninvasive brain stimulation (NIBS) on recovery of language functions is well documented, yet the effects of NIBS on other cognitive domains remain largely unknown. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review that evaluates the effects of different stimulation techniques on domain-specific (long-term) cognitive recovery after stroke. 

Methods. Three databases (PubMed, EMBASE, and PsycINFO) were searched for articles (in English) on the effects of NIBS on cognitive domains, published up to January 2018. 

Results. A total of 40 articles were included: randomized controlled trials (n = 21), studies with a crossover design (n = 9), case studies (n = 6), and studies with a mixed design (n = 4). Most studies tested effects on neglect (n = 25). The majority of the studies revealed treatment effects on at least 1 time point poststroke, in at least 1 cognitive domain. Studies varied highly on the factors time poststroke, number of treatment sessions, and stimulation protocols. Outcome measures were generally limited to a few cognitive tests. 

Conclusion. Our review suggests that NIBS is able to alleviate neglect after stroke. However, the results are still inconclusive and preliminary for the effect of NIBS on other cognitive domains. A standardized core set of outcome measures of cognition, also at the level of daily life activities and participation, and international agreement on treatment protocols, could lead to better evaluation of the efficacy of NIBS and comparisons between studies.

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[Abstract] Effectiveness of the Bobath concept in the treatment of stroke: a systematic review


Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of the Bobath concept in sensorimotor rehabilitation after stroke.

Materials and methods: A systematic literature review was conducted on the Bobath concept from the first publication available to January 2018, consulting PUBMED, CENTRAL, CINAHL and PEDro databases. Fifteen clinical trials were selected in two consecutive screenings. Two independent researchers rated the studies according to the PEDro scale from which a best evidence synthesis was derived to determine the strength of the evidence.

Results: The Bobath concept is not more effective than other approaches used in post-stroke rehabilitation. There is moderate evidence for the superiority of other therapeutic approaches such as forced use of the affected upper limb and constraint-induced movement therapy for motor control of the upper limb.

Conclusions: The Bobath concept is not superior to other approaches for regaining mobility, motor control of the lower limb and gait, balance and activities of daily living of patients after stroke. There is moderate evidence regarding the superior results of other approaches in terms of the motor control and dexterity of the upper limb. Due to the limitations concerning the methodological quality of the studies, further well-designed studies are needed.

  • Implications for rehabilitation
  • The Bobath concept is not superior to other approaches for patients after stroke.
  • The treatments that incorporate overuse of the affected upper limb via intensive treatments with high-repetitions with or without robotic aids present greater effectiveness in the motor control of the upper limb and dexterity.

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[ARTICLE] Technology-based cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions for individuals with mild cognitive impairment: a systematic review



Individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are at heightened risk of developing dementia. Rapid advances in computing technology have enabled researchers to conduct cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions with the assistance of technology. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effects of technology-based cognitive training or rehabilitation interventions to improve cognitive function among individuals with MCI.


We conducted a systematic review using the following criteria: individuals with MCI, empirical studies, and evaluated a technology-based cognitive training or rehabilitation intervention. Twenty-six articles met the criteria.


Studies were characterized by considerable variation in study design, intervention content, and technologies applied. The major types of technologies applied included computerized software, tablets, gaming consoles, and virtual reality. Use of technology to adjust the difficulties of tasks based on participants’ performance was an important feature. Technology-based cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions had significant effect on global cognitive function in 8 out of 22 studies; 8 out of 18 studies found positive effects on attention, 9 out of 16 studies on executive function, and 16 out of 19 studies on memory. Some cognitive interventions improved non-cognitive symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and ADLs.


Technology-based cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions show promise, but the findings were inconsistent due to the variations in study design. Future studies should consider using more consistent methodologies. Appropriate control groups should be designed to understand the additional benefits of cognitive training and rehabilitation delivered with the assistance of technology.


Due to the aging of the world’s population, the number of people who live with dementia is projected to triple to 131 million by the year 2050 []. Development of preventative strategies for individuals at higher risk of developing dementia is an international priority []. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is regarded as an intermediate stage between normal cognition and dementia []. Individuals with MCI usually suffer with significant cognitive complaints, yet do not exhibit the functional impairments required for a diagnosis of dementia. These people typically have a faster rate of progression to dementia than those without MCI [], but the cognitive decline among MCI subjects has the potential of being improved []. Previous systematic reviews of cognitive intervention studies, both cognitive training and cognitive rehabilitation, have demonstrated promising effects on improving cognitive function among subjects with MCI [].

Recently, rapid advances in computing technology have enabled researchers to conduct cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions with the assistance of technology. A variety of technologies, including virtual reality (VR), interactive video gaming, and mobile technology, have been used to implement cognitive training and rehabilitation programs. Potential advantages to using technology-based interventions include enhanced accessibility and cost-effectiveness, providing a user experience that is immersive and comprehensive, as well as providing adaptive responses based on individual performance. Many computerized cognitive intervention programs are easily accessed through a computer or tablet, and the technology can objectively collect data during the intervention to provide real-time feedback to participants or therapists. Importantly, interventions delivered using technology have shown better effects compared to traditional cognitive training and rehabilitation programs in improving cognitive function and quality of life []. The reasons for this superiority are not well-understood but could be related to the usability and motivational factors related to the real-time interaction and feedback received from the training system [].

Three recent reviews of cognitive training and rehabilitation for use with individuals with MCI and dementia suggest that technology holds promise to improve both cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes []. The reviews conducted by Coyle, et al. [] and Chandler, et al. [] were limited by accessing articles from only two databases, and did not comprehensively cover available technologies. Hill, et al. [] limited their review to papers published until July 2016 and included only older adults aged 60 and above. More technology-based intervention studies have been conducted since then, and only including studies with older adults 60 and above could limit the scope of the review given that adults can develop early-onset MCI in their 40s []. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to 1) capture more studies using technology-based cognitive interventions by conducting a more comprehensive search using additional databases 2) understand the effect of technology-based cognitive interventions on improving abilities among individuals with MCI; and 3) examine the effects of multimodal technology-based interventions and their potential superiority compared to single component interventions.[…]


Continue —-> Technology-based cognitive training and rehabilitation interventions for individuals with mild cognitive impairment: a systematic review

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[ARTICLE] A Systematic Review of Usability and Accessibility in Tele-Rehabilitation Systems – Full Text


The appropriate development of tele-rehabilitation platforms requires the involvement and iterative assessments of potential users and experts in usability. Usability consists of measuring the degree to which an interactive system can be used by specified final users to achieve quantified objectives with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a quantified context of use. Usability studies need to be complemented by an accessibility assessment. Accessibility indicates how easy it is for a person to access any content, regardless of their physical, educational, social, psychological, or cultural conditions. This chapter intends to conduct a systematic review of the literature on usability and accessibility in tele-rehabilitation platforms carried out through the PRISMA method. To do so, we searched in ACM, IEEE Xplore, Google Scholar, and Scopus databases for the most relevant papers of the last decade. The main result of the usability shows that the user experience predominates over the heuristic studies, and the usability questionnaire most used in user experience is the SUS. The main result of the accessibility reveals that the topic is only marginally studied. In addition, it is observed that Web applications do not apply the physical and cognitive accessibility standards defined by the WCAG 2.1.

1. Introduction

Innovation and technological advances involve the offering of valuable products and services to improve the quality of life of citizens. In recent decades, the domain of telemedicine has reported advances in the control, monitoring and evaluation of various clinical conditions [1]. In the field of rehabilitation, numerous studies and state-of-the-arts from informatics perspective [2] and different areas of application [34], show the effectiveness and advantages of the use of remote rehabilitation (or tele-rehabilitation) [56]. Tele-rehabilitation aims to reduce the time and costs of offering rehabilitation services. The main objective is to improve the quality of life of patients [7]. Tele-rehabilitation cannot replace traditional neurological rehabilitation [8]. It is considered as a partial replacement of face-to-face physical rehabilitation [9]. Tele-rehabilitation uses mainly two groups of technologies: (1) wearable devices and (2) vision-based systems based on depth cameras and intelligent algorithms [10]. In [5], the authors describe and analyze some characteristics and typical requirements tele-rehabilitation systems.

Design and conception of tele-rehabilitations platforms that do not consider guidelines, metrics, patterns, principles, or practice success factors can affect the access to the service, the effectiveness, quality, and usefulness. It can cause problems of confusion, error, stress, and abandonment of the rehabilitation plan. Therefore, guaranteeing the correct use of these applications implies to incorporate different studies of usability in the life cycle of the interactive system. For this reason, aspects of human factors engineering in tele-rehabilitation systems have been studied with the aim of providing accessible, efficient, usable and understandable systems [1112].

User-centered agile development (UCD) approaches allows developers to specify and design the set of interfaces of any interactive system in a flexible and effective way [1314]. The agile development life cycle centered on user experience (UX-ADLC) allows iteratively evaluating system interfaces based on the results of the previous iteration. The evaluation also includes the errors and usability problems encountered [15]. Thus, usability studies are an essential aspect of technology development [16]. This is the reason why designers need to meet usability and user experience objectives while adhering to agile principles of software development. Formative and summative usability tests are methods of evaluating software products widely adopted in user-centered design (UCD) [15] and agile UX development lifecycle. Both approaches are frequently used in the development of software applications. Rapid formative usability should be carried out so as to fulfill UX goals while satisfying end users’ needs. Formative usability is used as an iterative test-and-refine method performed in the early steps of a design process, in order to detect and fix usability problems [15]. Summative usability allows for assuring, in later phases of the design, the quality of the user experience (UX) for a software product in development. The focus is on short work periods (or iterations) where usability tests (formative and summative) must be contemplated. This means that quick formative usability tests should be carried out to fulfill UX goals [17].

The ISO 9241-11 standard [18] is a framework for understanding and applying the concept of usability to situations in which people use interactive systems and other types of systems (including built environments), products (including industrial and consumer products) and services (including technical and personal services). Likewise, the usability standard ISO 9241-11 facilitates the measurement of the use of a product with the aim of achieving specific objectives with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a context of specific use [18].

Usability can be studied through software evaluation methods widely accepted in user centered design (UCD) [15]. It can be formative or summative [8]. Formative usability consists of a set of iterative tests carried out in the early stages of the design process. The aim of the tests is to refine and improve the software product, as well as to detect and solve potential usability problems. As a complement, the summative usability allows to obtain an evaluation of the user experience (UX) for a software product in development. Formative usability facilitates decision making during the design and development of the product, while summative usability is useful when studying user experience (UX).

Tullis and Stetson [19] evaluated the effectiveness of the most used questionnaires to measure the summative usability. The authors found that the System Usability Scale (SUS) [20] and the IBM Computer System Usability Questionnaire (CSUQ) [21] are the most effective. SUS provides a quick way for measuring the usability through user experience. It consists of a 10-item questionnaire with 5-likert scale range from “Strong Agree” to “Strongly Disagree.” The CSUQ focuses on three main aspects: (1) the utility, which refers to the opinion of users regarding the ease of use, the ease of learning, the speed to perform the operations, the efficiency in completing tasks and subjective feeling; (2) the quality of the information which studies the subjectivity of the user regarding the management of system errors, the clarity of the information and the intelligibility; and finally, (3) the quality of the interface which measures the affective component of the user’s attitude in the use of the system.

Large part of the tasks in the tele-rehabilitation systems are carried out by patients who require to treat a temporary disability. Considering the special needs of these users, usability evaluations alone cannot guarantee an appropriate design of the system. On the contrary, accessibility studies can provide the mechanisms to offer the same means of use to all users of any interactive system. A study combining usability and accessibility was presented in [22]. The study analyzes how remote and/or video monitoring technologies affect the accessibility, effectiveness, quality and usefulness of the services offered by tele-rehabilitation systems. To do this, the authors provide an overview of the fundamentals necessary for the analysis of usability, in addition to analyzing the strengths and limitations of various tele-rehabilitation technologies, considering how technologies interact with the clinical needs of end users such as accessibility, effectiveness, quality and utility of the service [22].

For many people, the Web is a fundamental part of everyday life. Therefore, a fundamental aspect to ensure the inclusivity of a Website is its accessibility. For example, people who cannot use their arms to write on their computer can use a mouth pencil [23]. Or someone who cannot listen well can use subtitles to understand a video. Also, a person who has a low vision can use a screen reader to listen what is written on the screen [24]. Therefore, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web without any type of barriers [24]. There are several standards related to accessibility that provide guidelines and recommendations [25]. Some of the most important, according to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), are the following ones:

  • ISO 9241: covers ergonomics of human-computer interaction.

  • ISO 14915 (software ergonomics for multimedia user interfaces): multimedia controls and navigation structure.

  • ISO CD 9241-151 (software ergonomics for World Wide Web user interfaces): designs of Web user interfaces.

  • ISO TS 16071 (guidance on accessibility for human-computer interface): recommendations for the design of systems and software applications that allows a greater accessibility to computer systems for users with disabilities.

  • ISO CD 9241-20: accessibility guideline for information communication, equipment and services.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) [26] from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) [27] develops Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) [28] 2.0 (at present 2.1) that covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web contents more accessible. These guidelines were considered a standard in 2012, the ISO/IEC 40500. Complementary to these guidelines are the W3C User Agent Accessibility guidelines [29] (UAAG) and Authoring tool Accessibility guidelines [30] (ATAG), which addresses the current technological capabilities to modify the presentation based on the device capabilities and the preferences of the user.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provides international standards to make the Web as accessible as possible. It comprises the Web 2.0 Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) [31], also known as the ISO 40500 [32], which are adapted to the European Standard called EN 301549 [33].

The current version of the accessibility guidelines is “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1” (WCAG 2.1) [23]. WCAG 2.1 consists of 4 principles, 13 guidelines and 76 compliance criteria. The four principles refer to [34].

Principle 1—perceptibility: refers to the good practices regarding the presentation of information and user interface components. It consists of 4 guidelines and 29 compliance criteria.

Principle 2—operability: the components of the user interface and navigation must be operable. It includes 5 guidelines and 29 compliance criteria.

Principle 3—comprehensibility: the information and user interface management must be understandable. It has 3 guidelines and 17 compliance criteria.

Principle 4—robustness: the content must be robust enough to rely on the interpretation of a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. It includes a guideline and three compliance criteria.

Usability and accessibility can be combined to achieve the development of more accessible, efficient, equitable and universal tele-rehabilitation systems. This chapter presents a systematic literature review of summative and formative usability studies as well as accessibility studies in the context of tele-rehabilitation systems. The remaining of the manuscript is composed of four sections. Section 2 presents the method used to proceed with the systematic review. Section 3 is a description of the most relevant papers in usability applied to tele-rehabilitation. Section 4 describes the results regarding the accessibility. And Section 5 draws conclusions on the main findings of this literature review.[…]


Continue —> A Systematic Review of Usability and Accessibility in Tele-Rehabilitation Systems | IntechOpen

Figure 1.
PRISMA 2009 flow diagram chart that shows the selection process of the papers included in the literature review for usability.

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[Abstract] Upper limb tendon/ muscle vibration in persons with subacute and chronic stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis


INTRODUCTION: Results of several recent studies suggest that tendon/muscle vibration treatment may improve motor performance and reduce spasticity in individuals with stroke. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the efficacy of tendon/muscle vibration treatment for upper limb functional movements in persons with subacute and chronic stroke.
EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: We searched MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Wiley) from inception to September 2017. We included randomized controlled trials comparing upper limb tendon/muscle vibration to sham treatment/rest or conventional interventions in persons with subacute and chronic stroke. Our primary outcome was upper limb functional movement at the end of the treatment period.
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: We included eight trials enrolling a total of 211 participants. We found insufficient evidence to support a benefit for upper limb functional movement (standard mean difference -0.32, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.74 to 0.10, I2 25%, 6 trials, 135 participants). Movement time for reaching tasks significantly decreased after using tendon/muscle vibration (standard mean difference -1.20, 95% CI -2.05 to -0.35, I2 65%, 2 trials, 74 participants). We also found that tendon/muscle vibration was not associated with a significant reduction in spasticity (4 trials).
CONCLUSIONS: Besides shorter movement time for reaching tasks, we did not identify evidence to support clinical improvement in upper limb functional movements after tendon/muscle vibration treatment in persons with subacute and chronic stroke. A small number of trials were identified; therefore, there is a need for larger, higher quality studies and to consider the clinical relevance of performance-based outcome measures that focus on time tocomplete a functional movement such as a reach.

via Upper limb tendon/ muscle vibration in persons with subacute and chronic stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis – European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2019 Mar 11 – Minerva Medica – Journals

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[Abstract] Effectiveness of Technology-Based Distance Physical Rehabilitation Interventions for Improving Physical Functioning in Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials



To study the effectiveness of technology-based distance physical rehabilitation interventions on physical functioning in stroke.


A systematic literature search was conducted in 6 databases from January 2000 to May 2018.


Inclusion criteria applied the patient, intervention, comparison, outcome, study design framework as follows: (P) stroke; (I) technology-based distance physical rehabilitation interventions; (C) any comparison without the use of technology; (O) physical functioning; (S) randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The search identified in total 693 studies, and the screening of 162 full-text studies revealed 13 eligible studies.


The studies were screened using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis guidelines and assessed for methodological quality and quality of evidence. Meta-analysis was performed if applicable.


A total of 13 studies were included, and online video monitoring was the most used technology. Seven outcomes of physical functioning were identified-activities of daily living (ADL), upper extremity functioning, lower extremity functioning, balance, walking, physical activity, and participation. A meta-analysis of 6 RCTs indicated that technology-based distance physical rehabilitation had a similar effect on ADL (standard mean difference 0.06; 95% confidence interval: -0.22 to 0.35, P=.67) compared to the combination of traditional treatments (usual care, similar and other treatment). Similar results were obtained for other outcomes, except inconsistent findings were noted for walking. Methodological quality of the studies and quality of evidence were considered low.


The findings suggest that the effectiveness of technology-based distance physical rehabilitation interventions on physical functioning might be similar compared to traditional treatments in stroke. Further research should be performed to confirm the effectiveness of technology-based distance physical rehabilitation interventions for improving physical functioning of persons with stroke.


via Effectiveness of Technology-Based Distance Physical Rehabilitation Interventions for Improving Physical Functioning in Stroke: A Systematic Review … – PubMed – NCBI

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[Abstract] The effectiveness of backward walking as a treatment for people with gait impairments: a systematic review and meta-analysis

To investigate the effectiveness of backward walking in the treatment of people with gait impairments related to neurological and musculoskeletal disorders.

Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized and quasi-randomized control studies.

Searched from the date of inception to March 2018, and included PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, PEDro, CINAHL, and the MEDLINE databases.

Investigating the effects of backward walking on pain, functional disability, muscle strength, gait parameters, balance, stability, and plantar pressure in people with gait impairments. The PEDro scale was used to assess the quality. Similar outcomes were pooled by calculating the standardized mean difference.

Of the 21 studies (neurological 11 and musculoskeletal 10), 635 participants were included. The average PEDro score was 5.4/10. The meta-analysis demonstrated significant standardized mean difference values in favour of backward walking, with conventional physiotherapy treatment for two to four weeks to reduce pain (−0.87) and functional disability (−1.19) and to improve quadriceps strength (1.22) in patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis. The balance and stability in cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and gait parameters and muscle strength in anterior cruciate ligament injury improved significantly when backward walking was included as an exercise. There was no significant evidence in favour of backward walking in any of the other conditions.

The systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that backward walking with conventional physiotherapy treatment is effective and clinically worthwhile in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Insufficient evidence was available for the remaining gait impairment conditions and no conclusions could be drawn.


via The effectiveness of backward walking as a treatment for people with gait impairments: a systematic review and meta-analysis – Tharani Balasukumaran, Benita Olivier, Mokgobadibe Veronica Ntsiea, 2019

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[ARTICLE] Rehabilitation of Motor Function after Stroke: A Multiple Systematic Review Focused on Techniques to Stimulate Upper Extremity Recovery – Full Text

Associated Data

Supplementary Materials


Stroke is one of the leading causes for disability worldwide. Motor function deficits due to stroke affect the patients’ mobility, their limitation in daily life activities, their participation in society and their odds of returning to professional activities. All of these factors contribute to a low overall quality of life. Rehabilitation training is the most effective way to reduce motor impairments in stroke patients. This multiple systematic review focuses both on standard treatment methods and on innovating rehabilitation techniques used to promote upper extremity motor function in stroke patients. A total number of 5712 publications on stroke rehabilitation was systematically reviewed for relevance and quality with regards to upper extremity motor outcome. This procedure yielded 270 publications corresponding to the inclusion criteria of the systematic review. Recent technology-based interventions in stroke rehabilitation including non-invasive brain stimulation, robot-assisted training, and virtual reality immersion are addressed. Finally, a decisional tree based on evidence from the literature and characteristics of stroke patients is proposed. At present, the stroke rehabilitation field faces the challenge to tailor evidence-based treatment strategies to the needs of the individual stroke patient. Interventions can be combined in order to achieve the maximal motor function recovery for each patient. Though the efficacy of some interventions may be under debate, motor skill learning, and some new technological approaches give promising outcome prognosis in stroke motor rehabilitation.


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that stroke events in EU countries are likely to increase by 30% between 2000 and 2025 (Truelsen et al., ). The most common deficit after stroke is hemiparesis of the contralateral upper limb, with more than 80% of stroke patients experiencing this condition acutely and more than 40% chronically (Cramer et al., ). Common manifestations of upper extremity motor impairment include muscle weakness or contracture, changes in muscle tone, joint laxity, and impaired motor control. These impairments induce disabilities in common activities such as reaching, picking up objects, and holding onto objects (for a review on precision grip deficits, see Bleyenheuft and Gordon, ).

Motor paresis of the upper extremity may be associated with other neurological manifestations that affect the recovery of motor function and thus require focused therapeutic intervention. Deficits in somatic sensations (body senses such as touch, temperature, pain, and proprioception) after stroke are common with prevalence rates variously reported to be 11–85% (Carey et al., ; Yekutiel, ; Hunter, ). Functionally, the motor problems resulting from sensory deficits after stroke can be summarized as (1) impaired detection of sensory information, (2) disturbed motor tasks performance requiring somatosensory information, and (3) diminished upper extremity rehabilitation outcomes (Hunter, ). Sensation is essential for safety even if there is adequate motor recovery (Yekutiel, ). Also, up to 50% of patients experience pain of the upper extremity during the first year after stroke, especially shoulder pain and complex regional pain syndrome-type I (CRPS-type I), which may impede adequate early rehabilitation (Jönsson et al., ; Kocabas et al., ; Sackley et al., ; Lundström et al., ). Furthermore, joint subluxation and muscle contractures can lead to nociceptive musculoskeletal pain (de Oliveira et al., ). Among other complications of stroke the neglect syndrome (Ringman et al., ) and spasticity (Sommerfeld et al., ; Welmer et al., ) affect motor and functional outcomes.

The neurological recovery after stroke displays a nonlinear, logarithmic pattern (Figure (Figure1;1; Kwakkel et al., ; Langhorne et al., ). The greater part of recovery is reported to take place in the first 3 months following stroke (Wade et al., ). However, there is evidence that recovery is not limited to this time period; hand and upper extremity recovery has been reported many years after stroke (Carey et al., ; Yekutiel and Guttman, ). Improvement probably occurs through a complex combination of spontaneous and learning-dependent processes including: restitution, substitution, and compensation (Kwakkel et al., ; Langhorne et al., ). Until the third month after stroke onset, a variable spontaneous neurological recovery can be considered a confounder of rehabilitation intervention (Kwakkel et al., ). In the past, the observation of spontaneous recovery after stroke has misled some authors to believe that recovery of upper extremity function is intrinsic and that little can be done by therapists to influence it (Wade et al., ; Heller et al., ). Progresses in functional outcome appearing after 3 months seem largely dependent on learning adaptation strategies (Kwakkel et al., ). Evidence suggests that neurological repair through brain reorganization supporting true recovery or, alternatively through compensation, may also take place in the subacute and chronic phase after stroke (Krakauer, ).

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Figure 1
Hypothetical pattern of recovery after stroke with timing of intervention strategies. The neurological recovery after stroke displays a nonlinear, logarithmic pattern. The greater part of recovery is reported to take place in the first three months following stroke. Rehabilitation interventions targeting at improving a stroke patients’ performance should be implemented according to the phase of neurological recovery. Reprinted from Langhorne et al. (), Copyright [2011] by Elsevier. Reprinted with permission.



Continue —> Rehabilitation of Motor Function after Stroke: A Multiple Systematic Review Focused on Techniques to Stimulate Upper Extremity Recovery

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[Abstract] Home-based Technologies for Stroke Rehabilitation: A Systematic Review


-The types of technology of reviewed articles include games, telerehabilitation, robotic devices, virtual reality devices, sensors, and tablets.

-Two main human factors in designing home-based technologies for stroke rehabilitation are discussed: designing for engagement (including external and internal motivation) and designing for the home environment (including understanding the social context, practical challenges, and technical proficiency).



Many forms of home-based technology targeting stroke rehabilitation have been devised, and a number of human factors are important to their application, suggesting the need to examine this information in a comprehensive review.


The systematic review aims to synthesize the current knowledge of technologies and human factors in home-based technologies for stroke rehabilitation.


We conducted a systematic literature search in three electronic databases (IEEE, ACM, PubMed), including secondary citations from the literature search. We included articles that used technological means to help stroke patients conduct rehabilitation at home, reported empirical studies that evaluated the technologies with patients in the home environment, and were published in English. Three authors independently conducted the content analysis of searched articles using a list of interactively defined factors.


The search yielded 832 potentially relevant articles, leading to 31 articles that were included for in-depth analysis. The types of technology of reviewed articles included games, telerehabilitation, robotic devices, virtual reality devices, sensors, and tablets. We present the merits and limitations of each type of technology. We then derive two main human factors in designing home-based technologies for stroke rehabilitation: designing for engagement (including external and internal motivation) and designing for the home environment (including understanding the social context, practical challenges, and technical proficiency).


This systematic review presents an overview of key technologies and human factors for designing home-based technologies for stroke rehabilitation.


via Home-based Technologies for Stroke Rehabilitation: A Systematic Review – ScienceDirect

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[Abstract] Effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation alone or as additional therapy on chronic post-stroke spasticity: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Purpose: To evaluate the effects and to compare transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation protocols, alone or as additional therapy in chronic post-stroke spasticity through a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.

Methods: Search was conducted in MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, EMBASE and Physiotherapy Evidence Database through November 2017 (CRD42015020146). Two independent reviewers performed articles selection, data extraction and methodological quality assessment using the Cochrane Collaboration’s risk of bias tool. The main outcome was spasticity assessed with Modified Ashworth Scale or other valid scale. Meta-analysis was conducted using random effects method, and pooled-effect results are mean difference with 95% confidence interval.

Results: Of 6506 articles identified, 10 studies with 360 subjects were included in the review. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation alone or as additional therapy is superior to placebo TENS to reduce post-stroke spasticity assessed with Modified Ashworth Scale (−0.52 [−0.74 to −0.30] p < 0.0001, 6 studies), especially in lower limbs (−0.58 [−0.82 to −0.34] p < 0.0001, 5 studies), which is in accordance with the studies that used other scales. Low frequency TENS showed a slightly larger improvement than high-frequency, but without significant difference between subgroups. Most studies present low or unclear risk of bias.

Conclusion: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can provide additional reduction in chronic post-stroke spasticity, mainly as additional therapy to physical interventions. Studies with better methodological quality and larger sample are needed to increase evidence power.

  • Implications for Rehabilitation
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation as additional treatment to physical interventions can lead to additional reduction in chronic post-stroke spasticity.

  • High and low frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation showed similar results, with a smaller numerical superiority of low frequency TENS.

  • More studies are needed to substantiate the best protocol of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to the treatment of spasticity.

via Effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation alone or as additional therapy on chronic post-stroke spasticity: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials: Disability and Rehabilitation: Vol 0, No 0


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