Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stroke rehabilitation a novel treatment pays off

Stroke Rehabilitation: A Novel Treatment Pays Off

Investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham made a convincing case that an unconventional form of stroke rehabilitation is the real thing.

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In a landmark study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham used a randomized controlled trial -- the gold standard method for evaluating the effectiveness of a treatment -- to show that immobilizing the good arm of stroke patients and intensively exercising the weakened arm actually improved recovery, even when performed long after the stroke occurred. At one level, randomized controlled trials in the field of rehabilitation medicine have been so rare that the publication of each and every one should be applauded. At another level, the outcome of this study is so satisfying in terms of what we think we know about brain physiology (function) that even if the results turn out not to be true, they ought to be.

A controlled trial is one in which there is a comparison group of patients that is either untreated or is treated differently. When a controlled trial is also randomized, it means that upon entering the study, participants agree to be assigned to one group or the other based on the equ


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