A review of bilateral training for upper extremity hemiparesis



Upper extremity hemiparesis is the most common post-stroke disability. Longitudinal studies have indicated that 30–66% of stroke survivors do not have full arm function 6 months post-stroke. The current gold standard for treatment of mild post-stroke upper limb impairment is constraint-induced therapy but, because of the inclusion criteria, alternative treatments are needed which target more impaired subjects. Bilateral arm training has been investigated as a potential rehabilitation intervention. Bilateral arm training encompasses a number of methods including: (1) bilateral isokinematic training; (2) mirror therapy using bilateral training; (3) device-driven bilateral training; and (4) bilateral motor priming. Neural mechanisms mediating bilateral training are first reviewed. The key bilateral training studies that have demonstrated evidence of efficacy will then be discussed. Finally, conclusions are drawn concerning clinical implications based on the reviewed literature. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.