Stroke Therapy Research. What works?

NeuroRehab Team
Friday, January 13th, 2023


Every 2.1 seconds, someone in the world suffers a stroke. Stroke is the #1 cause of long-term disability worldwide. Globally, there are over 15 million stroke survivors. With respect to the United States, there are approximately 5.1 million stroke survivors alive today in the US. It is the third leading cause of death in USA and the numbers are expected to double by 2030.

“Stroke is the #1 cause of long-term disability worldwide”




Motor impairment of the upper limb occurs in 73-88% of first-time stroke survivors and 55-75% of chronic stroke patients. Thanks to pioneers like Dr. Merzenich, who conducted landmark studies in the 1980’s that confirmed the adult brain is not hard-wired, practitioners have an opportunity to “rewire the brain”.


With all the exciting new therapy solutions available at our fingertips, now is the time to challenge ourselves to toss out conventional concepts, usually not backed by research (gasp!) and focus on new protocols, supported by science, that produce continuous and lasting results.

Evidence-Based Review of Stroke Rehabilitation (EBRSR)

The latest summary (19th Edition, 1,300 RCTs) of the Evidence-Based Review of Stroke Rehabilitation (EBRSR), by the Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery (CPSR), shepherded by Dr. Robert Teasell, highlights various neurorehab treatments and their level of efficacy, categorizing what treatments are considered:

Beneficial (greater than 66% of studies reported a positive effect)

-Mixed/Inconclusive (50-66% of studies reported a positive effect)


What Works (beneficial)?




Mirror Therapy

Mental Practice

Task-Specific Training

Action Observation Therapy

Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation

Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy

What Kinda Works (inconclusive)?


Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation

Exercise & Strength Training

Brain-Computer Interface

Bilateral Arm Training

EMG Biofeedback

Virtual Reality



Great News for Millions of Stroke Survivors

The top proven treatments are widely available and very affordable! As clinicians, we must standardize the beneficial treatments above. We also must also consider the right application of the “inconclusive” treatments on a case-by-case basis, as some interventions can provide benefits in the right situations.

To learn about stroke rehab products or research, visit


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