Effects of Telerehabilitation on Physical Function and Disability for Stroke Patients
A Randomized, Controlled Trial
Background and Purpose—To determine the effect of a multifaceted stroke telerehabilitation (STeleR) intervention on physical function, and secondarily on disability, in veterans poststroke.
Methods—We conducted a prospective, randomized, multisite, single-blinded trial in 52 veterans with stroke from 3 Veterans Affairs medical centers. Veterans with a stroke in the preceding 24 months were randomized to the STeleR intervention or usual care. The STeleR intervention consisted of 3 home visits, 5 telephone calls, and an in-home messaging device provided over 3 months to instruct patients in functionally based exercises and adaptive strategies. Usual care participants received routine rehabilitation care as prescribed by their physicians. The primary outcome measures were improvement in function at 6 months, measured by both the motor subscale of the Telephone Version of Functional Independence Measure and by the function scales of the Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument.
Results—The 2 complementary primary outcomes (Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument Function and Telephone Version of Functional Independence Measure) improved at 6 months for the STeleR group and declined for the usual care group, but the differences were not statistically significant (P=0.25, Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument; P=0.316). Several of secondary outcomes were statistically significant. At 6 months, compared with the usual care group, the STeleR group showed statistically significant improvements in 4 of the 5 Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument disability component subscales (P<0.05), and approached significance in 1 of the 3 Function component subscales (P=0.06).
Conclusions—The STeleR intervention significantly improved physical function, with improvements persisting up to 3 months after completing the intervention. STeleR could be a useful supplement to traditional poststroke rehabilitation given the limited resources available for in-home rehabilitation for stroke survivors.
- Received December 7, 2011.
- Accepted April 18, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.