Effect of the complex physical therapy on the upper extremity function, functional independence and cognition in post-stroke patients
Motor dysfunction and cognitive impairment (CI) are the most prevalent and disabling among the stroke consequences. CI decreases the effectivity of motor rehabilitation, but motor dysfunction itself may also influence the manifestations and progression of CI. So development and study of novel physical therapy tactics, which are aiming to target both of these syndromes, becomes a subject of great interest nowadays.
The aim of study was to evaluate the impact of different physical therapy approaches on the upper extremity function, cognition and functional independence in patients in 1 year after ischemic stroke.
Materials and methods. Totally there were 72 patients examined in the 1-year period after first-ever anterior circulation ischemic stroke. Neurological status, upper extremity function and functional independence were assessed with the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), Fugl-Meyer assessment (FMA), modified Rankin Scale (mRS) and the Functional Independence Measurement (FIM). Cognitive function was assessed with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB), Trail-making Test A and B tests (TMT). Patients in Group 1 received secondary stroke prevention therapy and performed the exercises complex for general muscle function improvement for 2 months; patients in Group 2 also performed the exercise complex for paretic hand function improvement for 2 months.
Results. After 2 months of physical therapy a significant increase of the FIM “Self-care”, “Transfer” and therefore subtotal motor and total scores was observed in patients in Group 2; in Group 1 significant improvement was observed only in “Transfer” and subtotal motor scores. Adding of the hand exercise to the physical therapy complex (Group 2) appeared to be more beneficial for the upper extremity motor function. Patients in Group 2 after 2 months showed increase of the FMA “Wrist” score by 40 % (p<0.05), “Hand” score by 42.8 % (p<0.01) and “Total motor function” by 30.1 % (p<0.05), and the “Total motor function” score in Group 2 was 10.9 % higher in comparison with the Group 1 (p<0.05). In cognitive status significant differences compared to baseline level were observed only in Group 2; MoCA score increased by 14.3 % (p<0.05) and TMT-B performance time decreased by 14.8 % (p<0.05). Baseline MoCA score correlated with FMA “Wrist” (r=0.32; p=0.028), “Hand” (r=0.49; p=0.001) and “Total motor function” (r=0.46; p=0.004) scores. TMT-B score showed significant correlation with the FMA “Wrist” (r=-0.032; p=0.025), “Hand” (-0.45; p=0.009), “Speed/coordination” (r=-0.023; p=0.036) and “Total motor function” (r=-0.42; p=0.023).
Conclusion. Adding of exercise for hand function improvement into the physical therapy complex for post-stroke patients contributes to better upper extremity motor performance and therefore is more favourable for patients’ functional independence. Upper extremity motor impairment, especially hand and wrist dysfunction, are associated with worse cognitive performance. Hand function and fine motor skills improvement could be beneficial for the patients’ cognition. Further research is needed in regard to the prognostic significance of these findings and their impact on the treatment and rehabilitation strategies.
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