Neale Chumbler, a scientist at the Richard Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis and the Regenstrief Institute, and colleagues said post-stroke rehab is critically important.
"But for many veterans and others who experience a stroke, participating in supervised rehab can be difficult because they live far from a rehab facility," Chumbler said in a statement. "Even if distance isn't an impediment, transportation may not be easy. Providing rehab in the home is costly, and the availability of qualified physical or occupational therapists may be limited, particularly in rural areas."
The study involved 52 veterans who received care from VA medical centers in Atlanta, Durham, N.C., and Tampa, Fla.; were predominantly male; were ethnically diverse; and had an average age of 67.
Each had experienced an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke within the previous two years and lived at home. The study participants were randomized to usual care or the STeleR -- short for stroke telerehab.
Researchers used a camcorder to record physical and functional performance. An in-home messaging device that looks like a clock radio and plugs into a telephone line was installed and monitored weekly by a teletherapist.
The study, published online ahead of the August print edition of the journal Stroke, found those participating in STeleR increased the likelihood of maintaining a regular fitness routine, enhanced money management skills, improved the capability to prepare meals and improved the taking care of personal needs such as bathing.