OBJECTIVE: To assess the effectiveness of a rehabilitative training program for deficits in somatic sensation and motor control of the hand in patients with pure sensory stroke.
DESIGN: Multiple baseline and before-after follow-up trial with behavioral analysis of single cases.
SETTING: Rehabilitation unit of a university hospital in Italy.
PARTICIPANTS: Four patients were studied: 2 had a unilateral lesion confined to the parietal lobe (patients 1, 2), and 2 had a unilateral lesion of the thalamus (patients 3, 4) that also lapped the posterior limb of the internal capsule. All 4 patients had chronic deficits in somatic sensation and motor control of the contralesional hand.
INTERVENTION: Behavioral training consisting of exercises aimed at improving somatic sensation and motor control of the affected, contralesional hand. Thirty treatment sessions, each lasting 50 minutes, were performed.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Somatic deficit was evaluated with 5 tests, and motor control deficit was assessed with 4 tests. One functional test estimated the influence of somatic deficit on daily activities. A visual analog scale (VAS) was also submitted to the patients' relatives to evaluate the amount of use of the affected arm in daily life activities. A baseline was obtained by recording each measure, except for the VAS, 4 times at the first evaluation session. Evaluation sessions were conducted before, after, and 6 months after the end of the experimental treatment.
RESULTS: All patients showed a stable baseline in at least 8 of the outcome measures. Patients 1 and 2 significantly improved in 9 and 7 outcome measures, respectively. Patients 3 and 4 improved in 4 and 7 outcome measures, respectively. With the exception of case 3, all patients considerably increased their use of the affected arm during daily life. The improvement was generally stable over a 6-month period, suggesting that the treatment had a long-term effect.
CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest the possible effectiveness of our training program for treating somatic and motor control deficits of the hand in patients with cortical or subcortical pure sensory stroke.