Original research article
Porto Biomed. J. 2017; 2(3): 76-80 doi: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.pbj.2017.01.003 (Published 12 February 2017)

Effects of oculomotor and gaze stability exercises on balance after stroke: Clinical trial protocol

Carla Pimentaa,*, Anabela Correiaa, Marta Alvesb, Daniel Virellab

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Hospital Curry Cabral, Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Central, Portugal
Epidemiology and Statistics Office of the Research Unit, Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa Central, Portugal
*Corresponding author:
Accepted 9 January 2017
Background: The inability to maintain balance after stroke is an important risk factor for falling and relates to decreased potential for recovery. The vestibular system and gaze stability contribute respectively to postural stability and to maintain balance. Rehabilitation may be more effective with domiciliary training. Objective: This trial aims to verify if balance impairment after stroke improves with a domiciliary oculomotor and gaze stability training program. Methods: Individuals older than 60 years, discharged after suffering brain stroke with referral to the physiotherapy department, will be assessed for orthostatic balance. Patients with stroke diagnosis 3–15 months before recruitment, positive Romberg test and able to walk 3 m alone are invited to participate in this randomized controlled trial. Participants will be allocated in two intervention groups through block randomization, either the current rehabilitation program or to a supplemental intervention focused on oculomotor and gaze stability exercises to be applied at home twice a day for three weeks. Primary outcome measures are the Motor Assessment Scale, Berg Balance Scale and Timed Up and Go Test. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02280980). Results: A minimum difference of four seconds in the TUG and a minimum difference of four points in BBS will be considered positive outcomes. Conclusions: Oculomotor and gaze stability exercises may be a promising complement to conventional physiotherapy intervention after brain stroke, improving the balance impairment.

Abbreviations: VSR, vestibulo-spinal reflex; VOR, vestibulo-ocular reflex; BBS, Berg Balance Scale; TUG, Timed Up and Go Test; RCT, randomized controlled trial; MAS, Motor Assessment Scale
Stroke; Balance; Domiciliary training; Rehabilitation; Oculomotor and gaze stability exercises
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