Background: Stroke is one of the most disabling and costly impairments of adulthood in the United States. Stroke patients clearly benefit from intensive inpatient care, but due to the high cost, there is considerable interest in implementing interventions to reduce hospital lengths of stay. Early discharge rehabilitation programs require coordinated, well-organized home-based rehabilitation, yet lack of sufficient information about the home setting impedes successful rehabilitation. This trial examines a multifaceted telerehabilitation (TR) intervention that uses telehealth technology to simultaneously evaluate the home environment, assess the patient's mobility skills, initiate rehabilitative treatment, prescribe exercises tailored for stroke patients and provide periodic goal oriented reassessment, feedback and encouragement.
Methods: We describe an ongoing Phase II, 2-arm, 3-site randomized controlled trial (RCT) that determines primarily the effect of TR on physical function and secondarily the effect on disability, falls-related self-efficacy, and patient satisfaction. Fifty participants with a diagnosis of ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke will be randomly assigned to one of
two groups: (a) TR; or (b) Usual Care. The TR intervention uses a combination of three videotaped visits and five telephone calls, an in-home messaging device, and additional telephonic contact as needed over a 3-month study period, to provide a progressive rehabilitative intervention with a treatment goal of safe functional mobility of the
individual within an accessible home environment. Dependent variables will be measured at baseline, 3-, and 6- months and analyzed with a linear mixed-effects model across all time points.
Discussion: For patients recovering from stroke, the use of TR to provide home assessments and follow-up training in prescribed equipment has the potential to effectively supplement existing home health services, assist transition to home and increase efficiency. This may be particularly relevant when patients live in remote locations, as is the case for many veterans.