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Stroke Rehab Technique Has Lasting Results
Date:12/11/2007

Constraint-induced movement therapy improves strength and quality of life, researchers say

TUESDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- With just two weeks of so-called constraint-induced movement therapy, some stroke patients can have significant improvement in the functioning of their affected hand and a better quality of life, a new study finds.

For the study, participants wore a mitt on the less-affected hand. This forced them to use their affected hand while doing a repetitive task -- such as grooming or eating -- with the hope of improving the use of their hand and rebuilding strength. The mitt was worn for most of their waking hours for two weeks.

"The folks who have extremity constraint-induced movement therapy have significant improvements in the use of their impaired upper extremity that persist after two weeks of training," said lead researcher Steven Wolf, a professor of rehabilitation medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.

The researchers found that these gains were still evident two years later. "Over two years, strength-based measures improved further, and many measures of quality of life improved substantially," Wolf said.

The report was published online Dec. 11 in The Lancet Neurology.

In the EXCITE (extremity constraint-induced movement therapy evaluation) trial, 106 patients were randomly assigned to extremity constraint-induced movement therapy or usual therapy, which ranged from no treatment after concluding formal rehabilitation to drugs or continued physiotherapy.

The new study was an extension of the EXCITE trial, which demonstrated that people who underwent extremity constraint-induced therapy had better results in hand function after one year, compared with people who received usual care.

Wolf's team found that two years after treatment, there was no decline in the improvements seen after one year. In fact, the participants continued to gai
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