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.
This study is registered in the Dutch Trial Register as NTR1534.