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1.  Effects of aerobic exercise therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy on functioning and quality of life in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: protocol of the FACTS-2-ALS trial 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:70.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting motor neurons in the spinal cord, brainstem and motor cortex, leading to muscle weakness. Muscle weakness may result in the avoidance of physical activity, which exacerbates disuse weakness and cardiovascular deconditioning. The impact of the grave prognosis may result in depressive symptoms and hopelessness. Since there is no cure for ALS, optimal treatment is based on symptom management and preservation of quality of life (QoL), provided in a multidisciplinary setting. Two distinctly different therapeutic interventions may be effective to improve or preserve daily functioning and QoL at the highest achievable level: aerobic exercise therapy (AET) to maintain or enhance functional capacity and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to improve coping style and cognitions in patients with ALS. However, evidence to support either approach is still insufficient, and the underlying mechanisms of the approaches remain poorly understood. The primary aim of the FACTS-2-ALS trial is to study the effects of AET and CBT, in addition to usual care, compared to usual care alone, on functioning and QoL in patients with ALS.
Methods / Design
A multicentre, single-blinded, randomized controlled trial with a postponed information model will be conducted. A sample of 120 patients with ALS (1 month post diagnosis) will be recruited from 3 university hospitals and 1 rehabilitation centre. Patients will be randomized to one of three groups i.e. (1) AET + usual care, (2) CBT + usual care, (3) Usual care. AET consists of a 16-week aerobic exercise programme, on 3 days a week. CBT consists of individual psychological support of patients in 5 to 10 sessions over a 16-week period. QoL, functioning and secondary outcome measures will be assessed at baseline, immediately post intervention and at 3- and 6-months follow-up.
The FACTS-2-ALS study is the first theory-based randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects, and the maintenance of effects, of AET and CBT on functioning and QoL in patients with ALS. The results of this study are expected to generate new evidence for the effect of multidisciplinary care of persons with ALS.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register NTR1616.
PMCID: PMC3125309  PMID: 21672211
2.  A multidisciplinary cognitive behavioural programme for coping with chronic neuropathic pain following spinal cord injury: the protocol of the CONECSI trial 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:96.
Most people with a spinal cord injury rate neuropathic pain as one of the most difficult problems to manage and there are no medical treatments that provide satisfactory pain relief in most people. Furthermore, psychosocial factors have been considered in the maintenance and aggravation of neuropathic spinal cord injury pain. Psychological interventions to support people with spinal cord injury to deal with neuropathic pain, however, are sparse. The primary aim of the CONECSI (COping with NEuropathiC Spinal cord Injury pain) trial is to evaluate the effects of a multidisciplinary cognitive behavioural treatment programme on pain intensity and pain-related disability, and secondary on mood, participation in activities, and life satisfaction.
CONECSI is a multicentre randomised controlled trial. A sample of 60 persons with chronic neuropathic spinal cord injury pain will be recruited from four rehabilitation centres and randomised to an intervention group or a waiting list control group. The control group will be invited for the programme six months after the intervention group. Main inclusion criteria are: having chronic (> 6 months) neuropathic spinal cord injury pain as the worst pain complaint and rating the pain intensity in the last week as 40 or more on a 0-100 scale. The intervention consists of educational, cognitive, and behavioural elements and encompasses 11 sessions over a 3-month period. Each meeting will be supervised by a local psychologist and physical therapist. Measurements will be perfomed before starting the programme/entering the control group, and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Primary outcomes are pain intensity and pain-related disability (Chronic Pain Grade questionnaire). Secondary outcomes are mood (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), participation in activities (Utrecht Activities List), and life satisfaction (Life Satisfaction Questionnaire). Pain coping and pain cognitions will be assessed with three questionnaires (Coping Strategy Questionnaire, Pain Coping Inventory, and Pain Cognition List).
The CONECSI trial will reveal the effects of a multidisciplinary cognitive behavioural programme for people with chronic neuropathic spinal cord injury pain. This intervention is expected to contribute to the rehabilitation treatment possibilities for this population.
Trial Registration
Dutch Trial Register NTR1580.
PMCID: PMC2984384  PMID: 20961406
3.  Cost-effectiveness of a structured progressive task-oriented circuit class training programme to enhance walking competency after stroke: The protocol of the FIT-Stroke trial 
BMC Neurology  2009;9:43.
Most patients who suffer a stroke experience reduced walking competency and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). A key factor in effective stroke rehabilitation is intensive, task-specific training. Recent studies suggest that intensive, patient-tailored training can be organized as a circuit with a series of task-oriented workstations.
Primary aim of the FIT-Stroke trial is to evaluate the effects and cost-effectiveness of a structured, progressive task-oriented circuit class training (CCT) programme, compared to usual physiotherapeutic care during outpatient rehabilitation in a rehabilitation centre. The task-oriented CCT will be applied in groups of 4 to 6 patients. Outcome will be defined in terms of gait and gait-related ADLs after stroke. The trial will also investigate the generalizability of treatment effects of task-oriented CCT in terms of perceived fatigue, anxiety, depression and perceived HRQoL.
The multicentre single-blinded randomized trial will include 220 stroke patients discharged to the community from inpatient rehabilitation, who are able to communicate and walk at least 10 m without physical, hands-on assistance. After discharge from inpatient rehabilitation, patients in the experimental group will receive task-oriented CCT two times a week for 12 weeks at the physiotherapy department of the rehabilitation centre. Control group patients will receive usual individual, face-to-face, physiotherapy. Costs will be evaluated by having each patient keep a cost diary for the first 24 weeks after randomisation. Primary outcomes are the mobility part of the Stroke Impact Scale (SIS-3.0) and the EuroQol. Secondary outcomes are the other domains of SIS-3.0, lower limb muscle strength, walking endurance, gait speed, balance, confidence not to fall, instrumental ADL, fatigue, anxiety, depression and HRQoL.
Based on assumptions about the effect of intensity of practice and specificity of treatment effects, FIT-Stroke will address two key aims. The first aim is to investigate the effects of task-oriented CCT on walking competency and HRQoL compared to usual face-to-face physiotherapy. The second aim is to reveal the cost-effectiveness of task-oriented CCT in the first 6 months post stroke. Both aims were recently recommended as priorities by the American Hearth Association and Stroke Council.
Trial registration
This study is registered in the Dutch Trial Register as NTR1534.
PMCID: PMC2736157  PMID: 19674485
4.  Impact of early applied upper limb stimulation: The EXPLICIT-stroke programme design 
BMC Neurology  2008;8:49.
Main claims of the literature are that functional recovery of the paretic upper limb is mainly defined within the first month post stroke and that rehabilitation services should preferably be applied intensively and in a task-oriented way within this particular time window. EXplaining PLastICITy after stroke (acronym EXPLICIT-stroke) aims to explore the underlying mechanisms of post stroke upper limb recovery. Two randomized single blinded trials form the core of the programme, investigating the effects of early modified Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (modified CIMT) and EMG-triggered Neuro-Muscular Stimulation (EMG-NMS) in patients with respectively a favourable or poor probability for recovery of dexterity.
180 participants suffering from an acute, first-ever ischemic stroke will be recruited. Functional prognosis at the end of the first week post stroke is used to stratify patient into a poor prognosis group for upper limb recovery (N = 120, A2 project) and a group with a favourable prognosis (N = 60, A1 project). Both groups will be randomized to an experimental arm receiving respectively modified CIMT (favourable prognosis) or EMG-NMS (poor prognosis) for 3 weeks or to a control arm receiving usual care. Primary outcome variable will be the Action Research Arm Test (ARAT), assessed at 1,2,3,4,5, 8, 12 and 26 weeks post stroke. To study the impact of modified CIMT or EMG-NMS on stroke recovery mechanisms i.e. neuroplasticity, compensatory movements and upper limb neuromechanics, 60 patients randomly selected from projects A1 and A2 will undergo TMS, kinematical and haptic robotic measurements within a repeated measurement design. Additionally, 30 patients from the A1 project will undergo fMRI at baseline, 5 and 26 weeks post stroke.
EXPLICIT stroke is a 5 year translational research programme which main aim is to investigate the effects of early applied intensive intervention for regaining dexterity and to explore the underlying mechanisms that are involved in regaining upper limb function after stroke. EXPLICIT-stroke will provide an answer to the key question whether therapy induced improvements are due to either a reduction of basic motor impairment by neural repair i.e. restitution of function and/or the use of behavioural compensation strategies i.e. substitution of function.
EXPLICIT is registered at the Netherlands Trial Register (NTR, ., TC 1424)
PMCID: PMC2630975  PMID: 19091088

Results 1-4 (4)