Emory Healthcare has opened a new physical therapy clinic to provide rehabilitation to patients who have suffered from a stroke and have experienced weakness or immobility in a hand and/or arm.
The Constraint-Induced Therapy Program is designed to help patients recovering from a stroke to improve the use of an arm and/or hand by restraining the less-impaired hand and/or arm with an immobilizing mitt during waking hours in an effort to encourage use of the weaker arm. Patients then engage in daily rehabilitative therapy sessions, which include intensive training in functional tasks such as opening a lock, turning a door knob, or pouring a drink.
"The basic principal behind constraint-induced therapy is re-teaching a patient to regain use of his or her impaired limb by limiting their use of the good one," says Steven L. Wolf, PhD, professor of rehabilitation medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and the study's principal investigator. "Often, stroke rehabilitation has primarily focused on teaching patients how to better rely on their stronger limbs, even if they retain some use in the impaired limbs--creating a learned disuse."
According to Sarah Blanton, program coordinator, in order to be considered for constraint-induced movement therapy, patients should be able to at least begin to open a hand as if preparing to wave goodbye. Patients will be fully evaluated, however, for appropriateness. In addition, patients will need to have a referral from a physician to participate in the program. Individuals can schedule an appointment with the Emory constraint-induced movement therapy physician, or they can have a personal physician provide the referral.
Recently, Emory concluded a study in which more than 220 patients suffering predominantly from ischemic stroke (the most common for of stroke in which a blood vessel becomes clogged) participated in the Extremity Constraint-Induced Therapy Evaluation Trial (EXCITE).
Patients who received constraint-induced movement therapy within three-to nine-months after suffering from a stroke showed significant improvement in arm and hand function, according to Emory researchers. The findings appeared in the Nov. 1, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Each year more than 700,000 Americans suffer from stroke, and approximately 85 percent of stroke survivors experience partial paralysis on one side of the body. The annual health care costs for stroke care is approximately $35 billion.
For more information about the program, please contact Emory Healthcare's HealthConnections at 404/778-7777 or Sarah Blanton at 404/712-2222.