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    Clinical Practice Guideline to Improve Locomotor Function Following Chronic Stroke, Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury, and Brain Injury. Hornby T George,Reisman Darcy S,Ward Irene G,Scheets Patricia L,Miller Allison,Haddad David,Fox Emily J,Fritz Nora E,Hawkins Kelly,Henderson Christopher E,Hendron Kathryn L,Holleran Carey L,Lynskey James E,Walter Amber, Journal of neurologic physical therapy : JNPT BACKGROUND:Individuals with acute-onset central nervous system (CNS) injury, including stroke, motor incomplete spinal cord injury, or traumatic brain injury, often experience lasting locomotor deficits, as quantified by decreases in gait speed and distance walked over a specific duration (timed distance). The goal of the present clinical practice guideline was to delineate the relative efficacy of various interventions to improve walking speed and timed distance in ambulatory individuals greater than 6 months following these specific diagnoses. METHODS:A systematic review of the literature published between 1995 and 2016 was performed in 4 databases for randomized controlled clinical trials focused on these specific patient populations, at least 6 months postinjury and with specific outcomes of walking speed and timed distance. For all studies, specific parameters of training interventions including frequency, intensity, time, and type were detailed as possible. Recommendations were determined on the basis of the strength of the evidence and the potential harm, risks, or costs of providing a specific training paradigm, particularly when another intervention may be available and can provide greater benefit. RESULTS:Strong evidence indicates that clinicians should offer walking training at moderate to high intensities or virtual reality-based training to ambulatory individuals greater than 6 months following acute-onset CNS injury to improve walking speed or distance. In contrast, weak evidence suggests that strength training, circuit (ie, combined) training or cycling training at moderate to high intensities, and virtual reality-based balance training may improve walking speed and distance in these patient groups. Finally, strong evidence suggests that body weight-supported treadmill training, robotic-assisted training, or sitting/standing balance training without virtual reality should not be performed to improve walking speed or distance in ambulatory individuals greater than 6 months following acute-onset CNS injury to improve walking speed or distance. DISCUSSION:The collective findings suggest that large amounts of task-specific (ie, locomotor) practice may be critical for improvements in walking function, although only at higher cardiovascular intensities or with augmented feedback to increase patient's engagement. Lower-intensity walking interventions or impairment-based training strategies demonstrated equivocal or limited efficacy. LIMITATIONS:As walking speed and distance were primary outcomes, the research participants included in the studies walked without substantial physical assistance. This guideline may not apply to patients with limited ambulatory function, where provision of walking training may require substantial physical assistance. SUMMARY:The guideline suggests that task-specific walking training should be performed to improve walking speed and distance in those with acute-onset CNS injury although only at higher intensities or with augmented feedback. Future studies should clarify the potential utility of specific training parameters that lead to improved walking speed and distance in these populations in both chronic and subacute stages following injury. DISCLAIMER:These recommendations are intended as a guide for clinicians to optimize rehabilitation outcomes for persons with chronic stroke, incomplete spinal cord injury, and traumatic brain injury to improve walking speed and distance. 10.1097/NPT.0000000000000303
    Contributions of Stepping Intensity and Variability to Mobility in Individuals Poststroke. Hornby T George,Henderson Christopher E,Plawecki Abbey,Lucas Emily,Lotter Jennifer,Holthus Molly,Brazg Gabrielle,Fahey Meghan,Woodward Jane,Ardestani Marzieh,Roth Elliot J Stroke Background and Purpose- The amount of task-specific stepping practice provided during rehabilitation poststroke can influence locomotor recovery and reflects one aspect of exercise dose that can affect the efficacy of specific interventions. Emerging data suggest that markedly increasing the intensity and variability of stepping practice may also be critical, although such strategies are discouraged during traditional rehabilitation. The goal of this study was to determine the individual and combined contributions of intensity and variability of stepping practice to improving walking speed and distance in individuals poststroke. Methods- This phase 2, randomized, blinded assessor clinical trial was performed between May 2015 and November 2018. Individuals between 18 and 85 years old with hemiparesis poststroke of >6 months duration were recruited. Of the 152 individuals screened, 97 were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 training groups, with 90 completing >10 sessions. Interventions consisted of either high-intensity stepping (70%-80% heart rate reserve) of variable, difficult stepping tasks (high variable), high-intensity stepping performing only forward walking (high forward), and low-intensity stepping in variable contexts at 30% to 40% heart rate reserve (low variable). Participants received up to 30 sessions over 2 months, with testing at baseline, post-training, and a 3-month follow-up. Primary outcomes included walking speeds and timed distance, with secondary measures of dynamic balance, transfers, spatiotemporal kinematics, and metabolic measures. Results- All walking gains were significantly greater following either high-intensity group versus low-variable training (all P<0.001) with significant correlations with stepping amount and rate (r=0.48-60; P<0.01). Additional gains in spatiotemporal symmetry were observed with high-intensity training, and balance confidence increased only following high-variable training in individuals with severe impairments. Conclusions- High-intensity stepping training resulted in greater improvements in walking ability and gait symmetry than low-intensity training in individuals with chronic stroke, with potential greater improvements in balance confidence. Clinical Trial Registration- URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT02507466. 10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.026254
    Rehabilitation Intensity and Patient Outcomes in Skilled Nursing Facilities in the United States: A Systematic Review. Prusynski Rachel A,Gustavson Allison M,Shrivastav Siddhi R,Mroz Tracy M Physical therapy OBJECTIVE:Exponential increases in rehabilitation intensity in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) motivated recent changes in Medicare reimbursement policies, which remove financial incentives for providing more minutes of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Yet, there is concern that SNFs will reduce therapy provision and patients will experience worse outcomes. The purpose of this systematic review was to synthesize current evidence on the relationship between therapy intensity and patient outcomes in SNFs. METHODS:PubMed, Medline, Scopus, Embase, CINAHL, PEDro, and COCHRANE databases were searched. English-language studies published in the United States between 1998 and February 14, 2020, examining the relationship between therapy intensity and community discharge, hospital readmission, length of stay (LOS), and functional improvement for short-stay SNF patients were considered. Data extraction and risk of bias were performed using the American Academy of Neurology Classification of Evidence scale for causation questions. American Academy of Neurology criteria were used to assess confidence in the evidence for each outcome. RESULTS:Eight observational studies met inclusion criteria. There was moderate evidence that higher intensity therapy was associated with higher rates of community discharge and shorter LOS. One study provided very low-level evidence of associations between higher intensity therapy and lower hospital readmissions after total hip and knee replacement. There was low-level evidence indicating higher intensity therapy is associated with improvements in function. CONCLUSIONS:This systematic review concludes with moderate confidence that higher intensity therapy in SNFs leads to higher community discharge rates and shorter LOS. Future research should improve quality of evidence on functional improvement and hospital readmissions. IMPACT:This systematic review demonstrates that patients in SNFs may benefit from higher intensity therapy. Because new policies no longer incentivize intensive therapy, patient outcomes should be closely monitored to ensure patients in SNFs receive high-quality care. 10.1093/ptj/pzaa230