There are an estimated 50 million stroke victims worldwide, and that number is expected to increase as the baby boomers move into their 60s and 70s. With the expected increase, research has been ramped up in an attempt to ascertain what does and does not work in rehabilitation after stroke.
Neuroplasticity is essential in recovery from a stroke, the brain has to be able to essentially rewire itself, and to this end, researchers are finding that more is better. Utilizing a concept called “massed practice” entails that an individual practice specific movements form many hours (between 5 and 8) all during a 2 to 3 week time span, versus the currently used “distributed practice” which involves shorter practice periods of 15 minutes to 2 hours over several months.
Research indicates massed practice promotes greater recovery after stroke. Massed practice is the foundation of constraint-induced therapy and has opened the floodgates of a new perspective on dosage as it relates to stroke recovery. Summing it up: “More is better”-more resistance, more repetitions, more speed and more duration. The therapist sets the stage for stroke survivors to drive their own nervous system toward the massive neuroplastic changes needed for the fullest possible recovery.
While the article does admit there are problems with using massed practice in hospitals, skilled nursing and outpatient settings, it also proposes there are ways around this suggesting the use of constraint-induced therapy (mCIT) which allows for the massing of practice while the patient is at home.