Rehabilitative interventions may be provided to disabled people at home by means of telerehabilitation. The authors evaluated the effects of a telerehabilitation program designed for ameliorating motor deficits in post-stroke patients with arm impairment. They also compared the effects of home-based traditional rehabilitation provided by physiotherapists.

They selected 24 patients suffering from mild/intermediate arm motor impairments due to a long-lasting ischemic stroke in the territory of middle cerebral artery. A new virtual reality (VR) based system working on Internet connections provided adequate motor tasks to the patients from a remote rehabilitation facility. Both, the home-based traditional and the telerehabilitation programs, lasted four weeks. Before, at the end of the therapies and one month thereafter, it’s been assessed the motor deficit and the functional activities of the upper extremity with the Fugl-Meyer scale and the Abilhand scale. In addition, the spasticity of the arm was determined with the Ashworth scale. Finally, the authors examined at the same evaluation times the mean linear velocity and the duration of 30 consecutive reaching movements. Both the rehabilitative therapies improved significantly the Fugl-Meyer mean score and the Abilhand scale score. The clinical outcomes were not different between the two groups. In the telerehabilitation treated group, mean duration and mean velocity of the reaching movements improved by 20.5 % and by 16.3%, respectively.

These results supported the observations that some post stroke patients may benefit from a home-based telerehabilitation program to improve their motor deficits. This fact may favor an early discharge from hospital and have beneficial effects on the quality of life. In addition, telerehabilitation program may spare the available resources since allows physiotherapists and physicians to rehabilitate and monitor the patients remotely from rehabilitation facilities.

The treatments in this study were performed with our VRRS telerehabilitation system.