Author(s): Schaefer SY
BACKGROUND: Although task-specific training is emerging as a viable approach for recovering motor function after stroke, there is little evidence for whether the effects of such training transfer to other functional motor tasks not directly practiced in therapy.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the current study was to test whether training on one motor task in individuals with chronic hemiparesis poststroke would transfer to untrained tasks that were either spatiotemporally similar or different.
METHODS: In all, 11 participants with chronic mild to moderate hemiparesis following stroke completed 5 days of supervised massed practice of a feeding task with their affected side. Performance on the feeding task, along with 2 other untrained functional upper-extremity motor tasks (sorting, dressing) was assessed before and after training.
RESULTS: Performance of all 3 tasks improved significantly after training exclusively on 1 motor task. The amount of improvement in the untrained tasks was comparable and was not dependent on the degree of similarity to the trained task.
CONCLUSIONS: Because the number and type of tasks that can be practiced are often limited within standard stroke rehabilitation, results from this study will be useful for designing task-specific training plans to maximize therapy benefits.International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation