OBJECTIVE: To examine whether two different physiotherapy regimes caused any differences in outcome in rehabilitation after acute stroke. DESIGN: A double-blind study of patients with acute first-ever stroke. Sixty-one patients were consecutively included, block randomized into two groups, and stratified according to gender and hemiplegic site. Group 1 (33 patients) and group 2 (28 patients) had physiotherapy according to Motor Relearning Programme (MRP) and Bobath, respectively. The supplemental treatment did not differ in the two groups. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The Motor Assessment Scale (MAS), the Sødring Motor Evaluation Scale (SMES), the Barthel ADL Index and the Nottingham Health Profile (NHP) were used. The following parameters were also registered: length of stay in the hospital, use of assistive devices for mobility, and the patient's accommodation after discharge from the hospital. RESULTS: Patients treated according to MRP stayed fewer days in hospital than those treated according to Bobath (mean 21 days versus 34 days, p = 0.008). Both groups improved in MAS and SMES, but the improvement in motor function was significantly better in the MRP group. The two groups improved in Barthel ADL Index without significant differences between the groups. However, women treated by MRP improved more in ADL than women treated by Bobath. There were no differences between the groups in the life quality test (NHP), use of assistive devices or accommodation after discharge from the hospital. CONCLUSION: The present study indicates that physiotherapy treatment using the MRP is preferable to that using the Bobath programme in the acute rehabilitation of stroke patients.
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