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New research: reaching accuracy after stroke improves at training speed

Published in the journal, Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, a new study suggests people who are in the chronic stages of stroke will improve their reaching accuracy at the speed at which they train their reaching movement.

Dr Ulrike Hammerbeck, lead author on the study and Stroke Association Postdoctoral Fellow, said,

"Movements during daily activities need to be performed at different speeds. It is unlikely that training at only a single speed would equip individuals to perform movement at untrained movement speed. However, therapy after stroke places little emphasis on the speed of movement. We therefore investigated if chronic stroke survivors show similar improvements in reaching accuracy when they train at either fast or slow speed and whether improvements at the trained speed generalise to untrained speed. We found that reaching movements became more consistent irrespective of the speed individuals trained at. In addition movement accuracy improved unsurprisingly at the speed that they trained at. The group that trained at fast movement speed additionally showed some improvements when performing slow movements. We therefore recommend that training should be performed at a variety of movement speeds."

This study was funded by two grants from the Stroke Association. Project Grant TSA 2010/06 awarded to Professor John Rothwell, and TSA PDF 2015/02 award to Dr Ulrike Hammerbeck.

Read a lay summary of the findings from Project Grant TSA 2010/06.

Dr Ulirke Hammerbeck recently gave a three minute interview with Frontline Magazine about her life as a research physiotherapist. Read the interview on the CSP website.

 

Word from the Stroke Association?

We need to know much more about how reaching training after stroke can be improved, the benefits of task specific training, but also the intensity of training too. This study gives us greater insight into where the maximum benefit of different speeds of training may lie, and we look forward to seeing the next steps from Dr Hammerbeck's research in this important area.