OBJECTIVE. We compared the effectiveness of constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) with bilateral treatment of equal intensity for chronic upper-extremity (UE) dysfunction caused by cerebrovascular accident (CVA).

DESIGN. We conducted a 2-group, randomized intervention trial with stratification by severity of UE dysfunction. Twelve community-dwelling adults were provided with 6 hr of occupational therapy for 10 days plus additional home practice. Six participants wore a mitt on the unimpaired UE, and 6 participants were intrusively and repetitively cued to use both UEs. The Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT) and the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) were administered before and after treatment and at 6-mo follow-up.

RESULTS. Significant improvements were found in WMFT and COPM scores across time in both groups. No significant between-group differences were found on the WMFT.

CONCLUSION. High-intensity occupational therapy using a CIMT or a bilateral approach can improve UE function in people with chronic UE dysfunction after CVA. Treatment intensity rather than restraint may be the critical therapeutic factor.

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