Immediate effectiveness of single-session therapeutic interventions in pusher behaviour
Some stroke patients with hemiparesis exhibit a so-called pusher behaviour, i.e., they actively push away from the unaffected side and lean towards the hemiparetic side. This impairs their postural balance to such a degree that they are often unable to sit or stand. Pusher behaviour thus substantially hampers the rehabilitation of these patients. So far only a few case studies on treatment strategies have been performed. This study investigated the immediate after-effects of galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS), machine-supported gait training with the Lokomat, and physiotherapy with visual feedback components (PT-vf). Fifteen pusher and 10 non-pusher patients participated in an observer-blinded cross-over pilot study. Patients were measured on the scale for contraversive pushing (SCP) and on the Burke lateropulsion scale (BLS) immediately before and after a single-session of the specific intervention. Compared to PT-vf, Lokomat therapy had a significant effect on the BLS of pusher patients but no significant effect on the SCP values. GVS had no significant effect on these values on either scale. BLS is more useful than SCP to detect small changes for clinical trials and routine treatment. Forced control of the upright position during locomotion seems to be an effective method for immediately reducing the pushing behaviour of stroke patients, probably because it recalibrates a biased sense of verticality, via the somatic graviception. This finding, however, does not allow prediction of its long-term effects. Furthermore, it would be interesting to evaluate repetitive, multi-session DGO therapy and the amount of therapy needed to effectively reduce the pusher behaviour. âº This study investigated the immediate after-effects of three interventions for pusher behaviour (PB). âº Fifteen PB patients participated in an observer-blinded cross-over pilot study. âº Forced control of the upright during locomotion seems to be an effective method for reducing PB. âº No significant changes for galvanic vestibular stimulation, and physiotherapy with visual feedback.