The purpose of this evidence-based analysis is to determine the effectiveness and cost of CIMT for persons with arm dysfunction after a stroke.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain (ischemic stroke) or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). A stroke can affect any number of areas including the ability to move, see, remember, speak, reason, and read and write. Stroke is the leading cause of adult neurological disability in Canada; 300,000 people or 1% of the population live with its effects. Up to 85% of persons experiencing a complete stroke have residual arm dysfunction which will interfere with their ability to live independently. Rehabilitation interventions are the cornerstone of care and recovery after a stroke.
Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy
Constraint-Induced Movement (CIMT) is a behavioural approach to neurorehabilitation based on the principle of ‘learned non-use’. The term is derived from studies in nonhuman primates in which somatosensory deafferentation of a single forelimb was performed and after which the animal then failed to use that limb. This failure to use the limb was deemed ‘learned non-use’. The major components of CIMT include: i) intense repetitive task-oriented training of the impaired limb ii) immobilization of the unimpaired arm, and iii) shaping. With regard to the first component, persons may train the affected arm for several hours a day for up to 10-15 consecutive days. With immobilization, the unaffected arm may be restrained for up to 90% of waking hours. And finally, with shaping, the difficulty of the training tasks is progressively increased as performance improves and encouraging feedback is provided immediately when small gains are achieved.
What is the effectiveness and cost of CIMT compared with physiotherapy and/or occupational therapy rehabilitative care for the treatment of arm dysfunction after stroke in persons 18 years of age and older?
A literature search was performed on January 21, 2011 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and the Cochrane Library, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. (Appendix 1) A preliminary search completed in August 2010 found a Cochrane Systematic review published in 2009. As a result, the literature search for this evidence-based analysis was designed to include studies published from January 1, 2008 to January 21, 2011.
- Systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials with or without meta-analysis.
- Study participants 18 years of age and older with arm dysfunction after stroke.
- Studies comparing the use of CIMT with occupational therapy and/or physiotherapy rehabilitative care (usual care) to improve arm function.
- Studies which described CIMT as having the following three components: i) restraining unimpaired arm and/or wrist with a sling, hand splint or cast; ii) intensive training with functional task practice of the affected arm; iii) application of shaping methodology during training. No restriction was placed on intensity or duration of treatment otherwise.
- Duration and intensity of therapy is equal in treatment and control groups.
- Therapy beginning a minimum of one month after stroke.
- Published between 2008 and 2011.
- Narrative reviews, case series, case reports, controlled clinical trials.
- Letters to the editor
- Grey literature.
- Non-English language publications.
Outcomes of Interest
- Arm motor function: Action Research Arm Test (ARAT)
- Arm motor impairment: Fugl-Meyer Motor Assessment (FMA)
- Activities of daily living (ADL): Functional Independence Measure (FIM), Chedoke Arm and Hand Inventory
- Perceived motor function: Motor Activity Log (MAL) Amount of Use (AOU) and Quality of Movement (QOM) scales
- Quality of Life: Stroke Impact Scale (SIS)
Summary of Findings
A significant difference was found in our primary outcome of arm motor function measured with the Action Research Arm Test in favour of CIMT compared with usual care delivered with the same intensity and duration. Significant differences were also found in three of the five secondary outcome measures including Arm Motor Impairment and Perceived Motor Function Amount of Use and Quality of Use. There was a nonsignificant effect found with the FIM score and the quality of life Stroke Impact Scale outcome measure. The nonsignificant effect found with the scale score and the quality of life score may be a factor of a nonresponsive outcome measure (FIM scale) and/or a type II statistical error from an inadequate sample size. The quality of evidence was moderate for arm motor function and low for all other outcome measures except quality of life, which was very low.