Movement Therapy Helps Stroke Patients
Study Shows Long-Term Benefit From Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy
Candidates for Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy
Participants in the study had to be capable of some initial movement in the
limb affected by the stroke, Wolf says. With their wrist hanging over a table,
palm down, for instance, a stroke patient had to be able to raise the hand
without lifting the arm.
"Up to 30% of the stroke population, we think, could benefit from this
therapy," Wolf tells WebMD. About 700,000 Americans have a stroke each
year, according to the American Stroke Association.
Participants in the trial who were part of the "delayed treatment"
group -- which got movement therapy a year later than the others -- weren't
included in the two-year follow-up. At the two-year analysis, 34% of the
"immediate treatment" patients had dropped out.
The therapy is widely available, Wolf says, but is typically not reimbursed
by insurance. The cost is about $10,000, Wolf says, not including travel costs
to a center.
The movement therapy is worth a try, according to the American Heart
Association. In its 2005 stroke rehab guidelines, the association says that
constraint-induced therapy should be considered for a select group of patients
-- those with sufficient wrist and finger extension who are free of sensory and
According to the guidelines, the only demonstrated benefit is to those
receiving six to eight hours of daily training for at least two weeks.
The American Physical Therapy Association does not have a position on any
treatment method, including constraint-induced therapy. But spokeswoman
Jennifer Rondon says the association supports research on the therapy.