A systematic review of physical rehabilitation interventions for stroke in low and lower-middle income countries

<p><b>Purpose:</b> Approximately 70% of strokes occur in low and middle income countries, yet the effectiveness of physical rehabilitation in these contexts remains undetermined. This systematic review identifies and summarises the current evidence supporting physical rehabilitation interventions post-stroke in low and lower-middle income countries.</p> <p><b>Methods:</b> Five databases were comprehensively searched (April 2017) for randomised controlled trials, clinical controlled trials, and cohort studies testing rehabilitation interventions post-stroke in these countries. The Effective Public Health Practice Project Tool assessed quality of included studies.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> Sixty-two studies (2115 participants) were included. Interventions addressed upper limb (<i>n</i> = 26), lower limb (<i>n</i> = 22), and other (<i>n</i> = 14) outcomes. Seven studies were rated as strong in quality, 16 moderate and 39 rated as weak. Overall, in addition to usual care, physical rehabilitation interventions improved outcomes for stroke survivors. Best evidence synthesis provides level I (b) evidence supporting constraint induced movement therapy and mirror therapy to improve upper limb functional outcomes. Level I (b) evidence supports multimodal interventions that include lower limb motor imagery to improve gait parameters. Level II (b) evidence supports sit-to-stand training to improve balance outcomes.</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> Exercise-based and brain training interventions improved functional outcomes post-stroke in low and lower-middle income countries. Further high-quality studies including participation outcomes are required.Implications for Rehabilitation</p><p>Low-cost physical rehabilitation interventions requiring minimal resources can improve functional outcomes after stroke in low and lower-middle income countries.</p><p>Exercise-based interventions can improve upper limb, lower limb, gait, and balance outcomes after stroke.</p><p>Brain training paradigms such as mirror therapy and motor imagery, when included in therapy packages, can improve upper limb and gait outcomes.</p><p>The proven efficacy for rehabilitation interventions in improving stroke outcomes in low and lower-middle income countries supports the need to strengthen the rehabilitation workforce in this context.</p><p></p> <p>Low-cost physical rehabilitation interventions requiring minimal resources can improve functional outcomes after stroke in low and lower-middle income countries.</p> <p>Exercise-based interventions can improve upper limb, lower limb, gait, and balance outcomes after stroke.</p> <p>Brain training paradigms such as mirror therapy and motor imagery, when included in therapy packages, can improve upper limb and gait outcomes.</p> <p>The proven efficacy for rehabilitation interventions in improving stroke outcomes in low and lower-middle income countries supports the need to strengthen the rehabilitation workforce in this context.</p>