Circuit class therapy versus individual physiotherapy sessions during inpatient stroke rehabilitation: a controlled trial

Coralie K English, Susan L Hillier, Kathy R Stiller, Andrea Warden-Flood
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2007, 88 (8): 955-63

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of circuit class therapy and individual physiotherapy (PT) sessions in improving walking ability and functional balance for people recovering from stroke.

DESIGN: Nonrandomized, single-blind controlled trial.

SETTING: Medical rehabilitation ward of a rehabilitation hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: Sixty-eight persons receiving inpatient rehabilitation after a stroke.

INTERVENTIONS: Subjects received group circuit class therapy or individual treatment sessions as the sole method of PT service delivery for the duration of their inpatient stay.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Five-meter walk test (5MWT), two-minute walk test (2MWT), and the Berg Balance Scale (BBS) measured 4 weeks after admission. Secondary outcome measures included the Iowa Level of Assistance Scale, Motor Assessment Scale upper-limb items, and patient satisfaction. Measures were taken on admission and 4 weeks later.

RESULTS: Subjects in both groups showed significant improvements between admission and week 4 in all primary outcome measures. There were no significant between group differences in the primary outcome measures at week 4 (5MWT mean difference, .07m/s; 2MWT mean difference, 1.8m; BBS mean difference, 3.9 points). A significantly higher proportion of subjects in the circuit class therapy group were able to walk independently at discharge (P=.01) and were satisfied with the amount of therapy received (P=.007).

CONCLUSIONS: Circuit class therapy appeared as effective as individual PT sessions for this sample of subjects receiving inpatient rehabilitation poststroke. Favorable results for circuit classes in terms of increased walking independence and patient satisfaction suggest this model of service delivery warrants further investigation.

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