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Tele-Rehabilitation after Stroke: An Updated Systematic Review of the Literature

      Background

      Tele-rehabilitation for stroke survivors has emerged as a promising intervention for remotely supervised administration of physical, occupational, speech, and other forms of therapies aimed at improving motor, cognitive, and neuropsychiatric deficits from stroke.

      Objective

      We aimed to provide an updated systematic review on the efficacy of tele-rehabilitation interventions for recovery from motor, higher cortical dysfunction, and poststroke depression among stroke survivors.

      Methods

      We searched PubMed and Cochrane library from January 1, 1980 to July 15, 2017 using the following keywords: “Telerehabilitation stroke,” “Mobile health rehabilitation,” “Telemedicine stroke rehabilitation,” and “Telerehabilitation.” Our inclusion criteria were randomized controlled trials, pilot trials, or feasibility trials that included an intervention group that received any tele-rehabilitation therapy for stroke survivors compared with a control group on usual or standard of care.

      Results

      This search yielded 49 abstracts. By consensus between 2 investigators, 22 publications met the criteria for inclusion and further review. Tele-rehabilitation interventions focused on motor recovery (n = 18), depression, or caregiver strain (n = 2) and higher cortical dysfunction (n = 2). Overall, tele-rehabilitation interventions were associated with significant improvements in recovery from motor deficits, higher cortical dysfunction, and depression in the intervention groups in all studies assessed, but significant differences between intervention versus control groups were reported in 8 of 22 studies in favor of tele-rehabilitation group while the remaining studies reported nonsignificant differences.

      Conclusion

      This updated systematic review provides evidence to suggest that tele-rehabilitation interventions have either better or equal salutary effects on motor, higher cortical, and mood disorders compared with conventional face-to-face therapy.

      Key Words

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