Worse finger tapping in stroke patients’ unaffected hand indicates need for intensified treatment

Stroke patients who experienced significantly worse finger tapping in the unaffected hand indicate a need to intensify treatment targeted at the unaffected upper limb’s fine motor activities and coordination, according to data published in Neural Regeneration Research.

Researchers compared 30 stroke patients with right cerebral damage and hemiplegia admitted to District Old Hospital, China and the Neurological Rehabilitation Department of Hospital of Shanghai University of Sport, China from February to March 2012 and an additional 27 stroke patients admitted to the Neurological Rehabilitation Departments of Shanghai Tianshan Hospital and the Shanghai 7th People’s Hospital, China from July 2013 to March 2014 to 38 healthy right-handed participants selected from the patients’ families. Patients were assigned to 2 weeks of rehabilitation training and all participants performed the 8-second index finger tapping frequency and hand function assessments before and after treatment.

Study results showed the dominant hand of healthy participants had a significantly higher finger tapping frequency vs. the stroke group’s right hand. Compared with before treatment, the affected finger tapping frequency and hand function scores significantly improved after 2-week rehabilitation treatment. Researchers also found an improvement in the sum of both finger tapping frequency and hand function scores. According to the researchers, these results indicate that patients achieved a good therapeutic effect.

“Following stroke, motor disability and rehabilitation of the unaffected upper limbs in hemiparalysis patients is often ignored, thereby precluding an accurate and comprehensive assessment and treatment regime for the patient,” the researchers wrote. “In the case of hemiplegic patients, where function in the affected hand is not likely to recover, encouragement to use the contralateral hand for compensation should be an area of rehabilitation focus.”

Disclosure: The researchers have no relevant financial disclosures.

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