Pilot and Feasibility Studies
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BACKGROUND: The majority of stroke survivors experience motor impairment which benefits from rehabilitation treatment. Telerehabilitation, remote delivery of rehabilitation services, is a possible solution providing access to rehabilitation for stroke survivors living in rural areas or in situations like the COVID-19 pandemic where face-to-face treatment may be risky. However, valid and reliable motor impairment measures have not yet been established over a telerehabilitation platform. The Fugl-Meyer (FM) lower extremity assessment is widely used clinically and in research. Thus, the aim was to develop a modified FM for telerehabilitation (FM-tele) and assess the feasibility and preliminary agreement of FM-tele scores with the FM.
METHODS: Three phases were employed: phase 1 development, phase 2 feasibility, and phase 3 preliminary agreement. Literature review and consultation with clinicians were employed to develop the FM-tele. Community-dwelling individuals with stroke and FM evaluators were consulted to provide feedback via questionnaires on the feasibility of the FM-tele. To assess the preliminary agreement of the FM-tele, individuals with stroke participated in two sessions, one in-person and one via telerehabilitation. The standard version of the FM was administered during the in-person session. The FM-tele was administered in both sessions.
RESULTS: From phase 1, clinician consultation identified the following key principles: safety of the client, clear lower extremity visualization, and minimization of position changes which guided FM-tele development (n = 7). Feasibility was established in phase 2 where participants with stroke indicated that they felt safe and experienced ease following the standardized instructions, despite some technological concerns (n = 5). FM evaluators agreed that participants were safe and indicated effective standardized instructions. Phase 3 (n = 5) indicated preliminary agreement of the FM-tele compared with the FM.
CONCLUSIONS: Participants with stroke and clinical consultation indicated the FM-tele developed for telerehabilitation is feasible. A lower extremity motor assessment tool for telerehabilitation is urgently needed for stroke survivors living in rural areas or when face-to-face visits are impossible. This pilot study provides preliminary support for a future study.
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