Optimizing functional ability in stroke rehabilitation

Each year, approximately 50,000 Canadians suffer a stroke—the number one cause of neurological disability leading to impaired balance and mobility. Almost 90 per cent of stroke survivors have difficulties with everyday tasks, a reduced tolerance for physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle and multiple secondary complications. Many of these complications can be reduced with rehabilitation.

As a MSFHR-funded scholar, Dr. Janice Eng researched the effectiveness of a specific exercise program in improving balance and mobility in people with stroke. Now, Dr. Eng is working to optimize the functional abilities of people with stroke through innovative and effective rehabilitation interventions. One of these treatments includes a novel, cost-effective therapy where the patient manages their own amount of therapy for the arm and hand using a self-guided program. Dr. Eng will conduct a series of clinical studies aimed at improving arm and leg function in people living with stroke. People with stroke will be invited to participate in these studies and measurements of their abilities will be evaluated before and after the treatment. Changes in their abilities will then be analyzed and compared to individuals with stroke who receive what is considered standard therapy.

The development of effective rehabilitation interventions will improve the functional abilities of people with stroke, enable participation in social roles and physical activities, reduce secondary complications, and enhance quality of life. Novel interventions can also serve as a model for rehabilitation interventions in populations with other chronic health conditions.