Background: Task-specificity, repetition and progression are key variables in the acquisition of motor skill however they have not been consistently implemented in post-stroke rehabilitation. Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of a stroke rehabilitation plan of care that incorporated task-specific practice, repetition and progression to facilitate functional gain compared to standard physical therapy for individuals admitted to an inpatient stroke unit. Methods: Individuals participated in either a circuit training (CTPT) model (n = 72) or a standard (SPT) model (n = 108) of physical therapy, 5 days/week. Each 60 minute circuit training session, delivered according to severity level, consisted of four functional mobility tasks. Daily exercise logs documented both task repetition and progression. Results: The CTPT model was successfully implemented in an acute rehabilitation setting. The CTPT group showed a significantly greater improved change in gait speed from hospital admission to discharge than the SPT group (0.21± 0.25 m/sec vs. 0.13± 0.22 m/sec; p = 0.03). The difference between groups occurred primarily among those who were ambulatory upon admission. There were no significant differences between the two cohorts at 90 days post-stroke as measured by the FONE-FIM, SF-36 and living location. Conclusions: Therapy focused on systematically progressed functional tasks can be successfully implemented in an inpatient rehabilitation stroke program. This circuit-training model resulted in greater gains in gait velocity over the course of inpatient rehabilitation compared to the standard model of care. Community-based services following hospital discharge to maintain these gains should be included in the continuum of post-stroke care.
- Exercise therapy
- Physical therapy