BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Rehabilitation plays a central role in stroke recovery. Besides conventional therapy, technological treatments have become available. The effectiveness and appropriateness of technological rehabilitation are not yet well defined; hence, research focused on different variables impacting recovery is needed. Results from the literature identified cognitive reserve (CR) as a variable impacting on the cognitive outcome. In this paper, the aim was to evaluate whether CR influences the motor outcome in patients after stroke treated with conventional or robotic therapy and whether it may influence one treatment rather than another.
METHODS: Seventy-five stroke patients were enrolled in five Italian neurological rehabilitation centres. Patients were assigned either to a robotic group, rehabilitation by means of robotic devices, or to a conventional group, where a traditional approach was used. Patients were evaluated at baseline and after rehabilitation treatment of 6 weeks through the Action Research Arm Test (ARAT), the Motricity Index (MI) and the Barthel Index (BI). CR was assessed at baseline using the Cognitive Reserve Index (CRI) questionnaire.
RESULTS: Considering all patients, a weak correlation was found between the CRI related to leisure time and MI evolution (r = 0.276; P = 0.02). Amongst the patients who performed a robotic rehabilitation, a moderate correlation emerged between the CRI related to working activities and MI evolution (r = 0.422; P = 0.02).
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that CR may influence the motor outcome. For each patient, CR and its subcategories should be considered in the choice between conventional and robotic treatment.