A multimodal training with visual biofeedback in subacute stroke survivors: A randomized controlled trial

Emilia Ambrosini, Elisabetta Peri, Claudia Nava, Luca Longoni, Marco Monticone, Alessandra Pedrocchi, Giorgio Ferriero, Simona Ferrante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Early interventions maximizing patient's involvement are essential to promote gait restoration and motor recovery after stroke. AIM: The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of a multimodal biofeedback training involving cycling augmented by functional electrical stimulation (FES) and balance exercises on walking ability and motor recovery. DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial (NCT02439515). SETTING: Inpatient rehabilitation facility. POPULATION: Subacute stroke survivors (less than 6 months from the first event) aged up to 90 years old. METHODS: Sixty-eight participants were randomly allocated to an experimental group, performing 15 sessions of biofeedback FES-cycling training followed by 15 sessions of biofeedback balance training (20 minutes each) in addition to usual care (70 minutes), and a control group performing 30 sessions (90 minutes) of usual care. Participants were evaluated before training, after 15 sessions, after 30 sessions, and at 6-month follow-up through: gait speed (primary outcome), spatiotemporal gait parameters, Six-Minute Walking Test, Functional Independence Measure, Motricity Index, Trunk Control Test, Berg Balance Scale, and Fall Efficacy Scale. RESULTS: Both groups significantly improved over time, but no group and interaction effects were found for any outcomes. The 73% of the experimental group achieved a clinically meaningful change in gait speed compared to the 38% of the control group (P=0.048). These percentages were even more unbalanced for patients with a moderate to severe gait impairment at baseline (91% versus 36%; P=0.008). CONCLUSIONS: The multimodal biofeedback training was not statistically superior to usual care, showing only a positive trend in favor of the experimental group on locomotion recovery. Patients initially not able to walk might be the best candidates for such a training. CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: The multimodal biofeedback training is a task-specific, repetitive and intensive training requiring a minimal supervision, which might result in a lower staff to patient ratio if organized in group sessions. Therefore, it can represent a good alternative for early stroke rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-33
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Electrical stimulation therapy
  • Psychology biofeedback
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'A multimodal training with visual biofeedback in subacute stroke survivors: A randomized controlled trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this