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Promoting Therapists' Use of Motor Learning Strategies within Virtual Reality-Based Stroke Rehabilitation.

PURPOSE: Therapists use motor learning strategies (MLSs) to structure practice conditions within stroke rehabilitation. Virtual reality (VR)-based rehabilitation is an MLS-oriented stroke intervention, yet little support exists to assist therapists in integrating MLSs with VR system use.

METHOD: A pre-post design evaluated a knowledge translation (KT) intervention incorporating interactive e-learning and practice, in which 11 therapists learned how to integrate MLSs within VR-based therapy. Self-report and observer-rated outcome measures evaluated therapists' confidence, clinical reasoning and behaviour with respect to MLS use. A focus group captured therapists' perspectives on MLS use during VR-based therapy provision.

RESULTS: The intervention improved self-reported confidence about MLS use as measured by confidence ratings (p <0.001). Chart-Stimulated Recall indicated a moderate level of competency in therapists' clinical reasoning about MLSs following the intervention, with no changes following additional opportunities to use VR (p = .944). On the Motor Learning Strategy Rating Instrument, no behaviour change with respect to MLS use was noted (p = 0.092). Therapists favoured the strategy of transferring skills from VR to real-life tasks over employing a more comprehensive MLS approach.

CONCLUSION: The KT intervention improved therapists' confidence but did not have an effect on clinical reasoning or behaviour with regard to MLS use during VR-based therapy.

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