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New Study indicates effective rehabilitation treatments possible for chronic stroke patients

Here’s a study that could have implications for future rehabilitation treatments. A UCL-study finds that chronic stroke patients continue to benefit from intensive rehabilitation over a much longer period than previously thought.

According to researchers, problems with the arm and hand after a stroke are common and greatly impact hugely patients’ life by reducing their independence. It is generally believed that the upper limb is difficult to rehabilitate and after a few months, not much recovery is expected, say the UCL researchers.

Photo Credit: UCL


The study’s findings, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, assessed 224 patients (median time post-stroke 18 months), who took part in an intensive three week programme with 90 hours of rehab therapy, at the Queen Square Upper Limb Neurorehabilitation clinic, based at  The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, part of UCLH.

This is a much higher dose of rehabilitation than previously tested, however the study results indicated that patients, despite having a range of impairments and fatigue levels, were able to complete the full programme, and they saw significant clinical improvements in arm and hand function

Seeing Significant Improvements in Use of Arm and Hand

Lead author Professor Nick Ward, of UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, stated, “During the intensive rehabilitation programme patients gained significant improvements in arm and hand function, in some cases many years after the stroke, and this continued even after the participants had completed their treatment,” adds Ward, in a statement released on March 20, 2019..

“These findings are potentially a game changer for millions of stroke survivors and challenge the general medical consensus about the timeline for rehabilitation and should inform the design of future clinical trials,” says Ward.

Ward called for more research studies to determine which kinds of rehab therapy are most effective.  This study was funded by the UCLH Charities and The National Brain Appeal.


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