WisBusiness: UW researcher identifies optimal rehab period following a stroke

WisBusiness: UW researcher identifies optimal rehab period following a stroke

A recent study designed and co-authored by the UW-Madison School of Education’s associate dean for research identified the “optimal period” for rehabilitation of the hand and arm following a stroke.

“Understanding that there could be an important window for best rehabilitating after a stroke is exciting because it gives us an optimal period for using a range of techniques and therapies to enhance recovery,” said Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, who is also a member of the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery at the Georgetown University Medical Center.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by researchers at Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network. In a randomized clinical trial, 72 participants were enrolled within three weeks of experiencing a stroke. Study authors found that the ideal timeframe for rehabilitation is between 60 and 90 days after the event.

In addition to these results, researchers found that participants who had a stroke and underwent “intensive rehabilitation” in the first 30 days after the stroke had some benefit. But rehabilitation conducted more than six months later “demonstrated no major benefits compared to participants who received standard care.”

Edwards holds positions with the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Departments of Medicine and Neurology in the School of Medicine and Public Health. In a release from the university, she explained that she helped design the study so that participants could choose the activities they wanted to do for their rehabilitation.

“In order to keep people engaged in this very intensive rehabilitation training, you have to find things that they really want to do in order to keep at it,” she said. “That’s where the hand experts and hand therapists on the study team were able to take what I wanted to do theoretically — and turn it into intensive treatment that kept the participants motivated and moving forward.”

See the study here: https://www.pnas.org/content/118/39/e2026676118.short?rss=1