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Functional Neurology

Effects of Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy on upper limb activity according to a bi-dimensional kinematic analysis in progressive multiple sclerosis patients: a randomized single-blind pilot study

Original Article, 151 - 157
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Abstract
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system, characterized by demyelinization and axonal loss resulting, in 66% of cases, in upper limb motor impairment. The effects of constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) have recently been investigated in MS patients. The aim of this randomized single-blind pilot study was to assess the effects of CIMT on upper limb activity, specifically smoothness of movement, in patients affected by progressive MS. Patients affected by MS, and reporting reduced use primarily of one upper limb, were enrolled and randomly allocated to two different groups: a CIMT group, where treatment was performed with the less affected limb immobilized by a splint, and a control group, submitted to intensive bi-manual treatment. All evaluations were performed at baseline (T0) and after two weeks of treatment (T1) by an operator unaware of the patients’ allocation. The primary outcome was the difference in movement smoothness, measured by means of a bidimensional kinematic evaluation. Secondary outcomes were: endpoint error and arm trajectory mean speed. Furthermore, patients performed the Hand Grip Strength Test (HGS) and 9-Hole Peg Test (9HPT), for both arms, at both time points. Ten patients with MS (4 males, 6 females; mean age 51.0±7.7 years) were randomly allocated to the CIMT group (n=5) and control group (n=5). There were no significant differences between groups in any of the data assessed at baseline. In the CIMT group subjects, the treatment effect, in terms of movement smoothness, was significant at the more affected limb (p=0.0376). The CIMT group displayed statistically significant improvements, versus the baseline values, in muscle strength (HGS:22.4±8.3 vs 26.0±6.0; p<0.05) and dexterity (9HPT: 31.8±6.1 vs 27.4±4.9; p<0.05) of the more affected limb. A positive, although not significant, trend in terms of muscle strength and upper limb dexterity was observed, for both limbs, in the control group after the two-week treatment. Bi-dimensional kinematic evaluation demonstrated that the CIMT group showed a significant reduction of endpoint error and higher mean speed for the more affected arm; these data are in line with the significant improvements recorded on the HGS and 9HPT. Moreover, in the CIMT group, a non-significant worsening of muscle strength was recorded for the less affected upper limb.

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