Improving Arm Mobility and Use After Stroke


Phase 3 Results

Trial Description

An individual suffering a stroke or other brain injury may lose function on one side of the body (partial paralysis). As the individual shifts activities to favor the unaffected side, the problem worsens. Constraint induced (CI) therapy forces the individual to use the neglected arm by restraining the good arm in a sling. This study examines the effectiveness of CI therapy for improving arm motion after stroke.

Detailed Description

Profoundly impaired motor dysfunction is a major consequence of stroke. As a result, a large number of the more than 700,000 people in America sustaining a stroke each year have limitations in motor ability and compromised quality of life. Therapeutic interventions designed to enhance motor function and promote independent use of an impaired upper extremity are quite limited.
CI movement therapy, or "forced use," involves motor restriction of the less effected upper extremity for 2 weeks. Over this time, repetitive use of the more effected upper extremity is promoted for many hours a day. This treatment produces long lasting improvements in extremity use among patients who are more than 1 year post-stroke and who have an ability to initiate some extension in wrist and digit joints.
This study will determine if CI therapy for a hemiparetic upper extremity in patients with sub-acute (3 to 9 months post-cerebral infarct) stroke will lead to functional improvements and enhanced quality of life measures more than usual care.
Patients are randomized into a treatment or usual care group and stratified by movement capability into higher and lower functioning categories. Higher functioning patients are defined as those who have at least 20 degrees of active wrist extension and 10 degrees of active finger extension at each digit joint. Lower functioning patients are defined as those with at least 10 degrees of wrist extension and 10 degrees of extension at each thumb joint and all joints of two other digits. Patients randomized into the control group receive treatment one year later to permit replication efforts for findings using this therapy in patients with chronic stroke.
The intervention consists of making patients use their impaired arms by constraining movement in the less impaired limb for most waking hours over a 2 week period. The constraint is a taped splint in which the hand rests to prevent limb use but enable protective responses. A micro-switch within the splint will permit monitoring of contact time (wearing). Each weekday for 2 weeks, patients come to the clinic/laboratory for specific task training. Evaluations in laboratory and actual use tests are made prior to treatment, 2 weeks later, and at 4 month intervals thereafter. Changes in psychosocial functioning will also be measured. Primary outcomes include the Wolf Motor Function Test and the Motor Activity Log. Secondary outcomes include Stroke Impact Scale, Actual Amount of Use Test, and accelerometry.



Trial Design

  • Allocation: Randomized
  • Masking: Single Blind
  • Purpose: Treatment
  • Endpoint: Efficacy Study
  • Intervention: Crossover Assignment

Patient Involvement

Eligible patients will be randomized into subacute and chronic treatment groups. Upon randomization, the subacute group will receive CIMT, which involves constraining the functional arm during waking hours for two weeks, and training the disabled arm to perform basic activities for 6 hours every weekday during that period. The chronic treatment group will receive CIMT at 1 year post-randomization. Patients will be provided with standard medical and rehabilitative care throughout.


Type Measure Time Frame Safety Issue
Primary The Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT), a measure of laboratory time and strength-based ability and quality of movement (functional ability), and the Motor Activity Log (MAL), a measure of how well and how often 30 common daily activities are performed.
Secondary Changes in psychosocial functioning.