Research Article
Issue Date: September/October 2020
Published Online: July 20, 2020
Updated: August 07, 2020
Stretching and Splinting Interventions for Poststroke Spasticity, Hand Function, and Functional Tasks: A Systematic Review
Author Affiliations
  • Lindsey Kerr, OTD, OTR/L, was Occupational Therapy Doctoral Student, Creighton University, Omaha, NE.
  • Vanessa D. Jewell, PhD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor and Vice Chair of Research and Assessment, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, Creighton University, Omaha, NE; vanessajewell@creighton.edu
  • Lou Jensen, OTD, OTR/L, C/NDT, LSVT-BIG, is Associate Professor and Regis Pathway Coordinator, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, Creighton University, Omaha, NE.
Article Information
Complementary/Alternative Approaches / Hand and Upper Extremity / Musculoskeletal Impairments / Splinting / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 20, 2020
Stretching and Splinting Interventions for Poststroke Spasticity, Hand Function, and Functional Tasks: A Systematic Review
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2020, Vol. 74, 7405205050. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.029454
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2020, Vol. 74, 7405205050. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.029454
Abstract

Importance: Spasticity is one of the most common and disabling motor impairments after stroke.

Objective: To examine the evidence for the effectiveness of stretching interventions, including splinting, on reducing upper extremity spasticity, increasing hand function, and improving functional tasks for adults with poststroke spasticity.

Data Sources: Databases searched were MEDLINE, CINAHL, OTseeker, AgeLine, and the Cochrane Library; results were limited to studies published from 2004 to January 2017.

Study Selection and Data Collection: Following PRISMA guidelines, we included articles describing Level I–III studies with participants who were adults with upper extremity spasticity and received a stretching intervention.

Findings: Eleven articles describing 6 Level I and 5 Level III studies met inclusion criteria.

Conclusion and Relevance: For reducing upper extremity spasticity, low strength of evidence was found to support the use of static splinting, strong strength of evidence was found for the use of stretching devices, and low strength of evidence was found to support the use of dynamic splinting; no evidence was found for manual stretching to address spasticity. For increasing hand function, moderate strength of evidence was found to support the use of static splinting, dynamic splinting, and manual stretching, and low strength of evidence was found for the use of stretching devices. For improving functional tasks, moderate strength of evidence was found to support the use of static splinting, dynamic splinting, and manual stretching, and low strength of evidence was found for the use of stretching devices.

What This Article Adds: This updated synthesis summarizes the current literature regarding the effectiveness of stretching interventions to improve poststroke spasticity, hand function, and functional tasks.