The effectiveness of a supplementary inpatient exercise program on upper limb function in individuals with stroke

After a stroke, 80 per cent of people have long term difficulty using the arm and hand on one side of their body. This can lead to a loss of independence and a decrease in quality of life. Most rehabilitation of the arm and hand after a stroke takes place in hospital; however, while recent research indicates that approximately one hour a day of arm therapy is needed to improve the arm’s ability to be useful in daily activities, the time currently spent on arm-specific treatment is only 20 to 30 minutes. Jocelyn Harris is studying the implementation of an in-patient exercise homework program that increases the amount of arm therapy a patient performs in hospital. Taught by a therapist, the homework exercises are done for one hour a day, five days a week, for four weeks. Before starting the program and at the conclusion of the four weeks, patients participate in tests to measure hand strength, arm and hand movement, and the ability of the arm and hand to participate in day-to-day activities. This study will determine if increasing the amount of arm therapy time increases the ability to use the arm among stroke patients. An increase in ability can ultimately contribute to improved independence, continued community living, better health and enhanced life satisfaction among people who have had a stroke.