Task-related training improves performance of seated reaching tasks after stroke: A randomized controlled trial

Catherine M. Dean*, Roberta B. Shepherd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose: After stroke, the ability to balance in sitting is critical to independence. Although impairments in sitting balance are common, little is known about the effectiveness of rehabilitation strategies designed to improve it. The purpose of this randomized placebo-controlled study was to evaluate the effect of a 2-week task-related training program aimed at increasing distance reached and the contribution of the affected lower leg to support and balance. Methods: Twenty subjects at least 1 year after stroke were randomized into an experimental or control group. The experimental group participated in a standardized training program involving practice of reaching beyond arm's length. The control group received sham training involving completion of cognitive-manipulative tasks within arm's length. Performance of reaching in sitting was measured before and after training using electromyography, videotaping, and two force plates. Variables tested were movement time, distance reached, vertical ground reaction forces through the feet, and muscle activity. Subjects were also tested on sit-to- stand, walking, and cognitive tasks. Nineteen subjects completed the study. Results: After training, experimental subjects were able to reach faster and further, increase load through the affected foot, and increase activation of affected leg muscles compared with the control group (P<.01). The experimental group also improved in sit-to-stand. The control group did not improve in reaching or sit-to-stand. Neither group improved in walking. Conclusions: This study provides strong evidence of the efficacy of task- related motor training in improving the ability to balance during seated reaching activities after stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-728
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1997
Externally publishedYes


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