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1.  Study protocol: EXERcise and Cognition In Sedentary adults with Early-ONset dementia (EXERCISE-ON) 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:75.
Although the development of early-onset dementia is a radical and invalidating experience for both patient and family there are hardly any non-pharmacological studies that focus on this group of patients. One type of a non-pharmacological intervention that appears to have a beneficial effect on cognition in older persons without dementia and older persons at risk for dementia is exercise. In view of their younger age early-onset dementia patients may be well able to participate in an exercise program. The main aim of the EXERCISE-ON study is to assess whether exercise slows down the progressive course of the symptoms of dementia.
One hundred and fifty patients with early-onset dementia are recruited. After completion of the baseline measurements, participants living within a 50 kilometre radius to one of the rehabilitation centres are randomly assigned to either an aerobic exercise program in a rehabilitation centre or a flexibility and relaxation program in a rehabilitation centre. Both programs are applied three times a week during 3 months. Participants living outside the 50 kilometre radius are included in a feasibility study where participants join in a daily physical activity program set at home making use of pedometers. Measurements take place at baseline (entry of the study), after three months (end of the exercise program) and after six months (follow-up). Primary outcomes are cognitive functioning; psychomotor speed and executive functioning; (instrumental) activities of daily living, and quality of life. Secondary outcomes include physical, neuropsychological, and rest-activity rhythm measures.
The EXERCISE-ON study is the first study to offer exercise programs to patients with early-onset dementia. We expect this study to supply evidence regarding the effects of exercise on the symptoms of early-onset dementia, influencing quality of life.
Trial registration
The present study is registered within The Netherlands National Trial Register (ref: NTR2124)
PMCID: PMC3488467  PMID: 22897903
Dementia; Early-onset dementia; Presenile dementia; Intervention; Physical activity; Exercise; Randomized controlled trial
2.  Comparing unilateral and bilateral upper limb training: The ULTRA-stroke program design 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:57.
About 80% of all stroke survivors have an upper limb paresis immediately after stroke, only about a third of whom (30 to 40%) regain some dexterity within six months following conventional treatment programs. Of late, however, two recently developed interventions - constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) and bilateral arm training with rhythmic auditory cueing (BATRAC) - have shown promising results in the treatment of upper limb paresis in chronic stroke patients. The ULTRA-stroke (acronym for Upper Limb TRaining After stroke) program was conceived to assess the effectiveness of these interventions in subacute stroke patients and to examine how the observed changes in sensori-motor functioning relate to changes in stroke recovery mechanisms associated with peripheral stiffness, interlimb interactions, and cortical inter- and intrahemispheric networks. The present paper describes the design of this single-blinded randomized clinical trial (RCT), which has recently started and will take several years to complete.
Sixty patients with a first ever stroke will be recruited. Patients will be stratified in terms of their remaining motor ability at the distal part of the arm (i.e., wrist and finger movements) and randomized over three intervention groups receiving modified CIMT, modified BATRAC, or an equally intensive (i.e., dose-matched) conventional treatment program for 6 weeks. Primary outcome variable is the score on the Action Research Arm test (ARAT), which will be assessed before, directly after, and 6 weeks after the intervention. During those test sessions all patients will also undergo measurements aimed at investigating the associated recovery mechanisms using haptic robots and magneto-encephalography (MEG).
ULTRA-stroke is a 3-year translational research program which aims (1) to assess the relative effectiveness of the three interventions, on a group level but also as a function of patient characteristics, and (2) to delineate the functional and neurophysiological changes that are induced by those interventions.
The outcome on the ARAT together with information about changes in the associated mechanisms will provide a better understanding of how specific therapies influence neurobiological changes, and which post-stroke conditions lend themselves to specific treatments.
Trial Registration
The ULTRA-stroke program is registered at the Netherlands Trial Register (NTR,, number NTR1665).
PMCID: PMC2780376  PMID: 19895679

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