Systematic Review of Rehabilitation in Focal Dystonias: Classification and Recommendations

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Journal Article
Movement Disorders Clinical Practice, 2018, 5 (3), pp. 237 - 245
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© 2017 The Authors. Movement Disorders Clinical Practice published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. Background: Rehabilitation interventions are rarely utilized as an alternative or adjunct therapy for focal dystonias. Reasons for limited utilization are unknown, but lack of conclusive evidence of effectiveness is likely a crucial factor. Methods and Findings: The purpose of this systematic review was to determine the level of evidence for rehabilitation interventions in focal dystonias. Rehabilitation interventions were classified based upon the underlying theoretical basis of different approaches, and the strength of evidence for each category was evaluated to identify gaps in the field. Prospective studies using rehabilitation methods in cervical, hand, and foot dystonia were reviewed. The key elements of treatments tested were identified and studies were grouped into six categories based on the theoretical basis of the intervention: (1) movement practice, (2) training with constraint, (3) sensory reorganization, (4) normalization of muscle activity with external techniques, (5) neuromodulation with training, and (6) compensatory strategies. Quality of the body of evidence ranged from very low-to-low according to the grades of recommendation, assessment, development, and evaluation (GRADE). Despite inconclusive evidence for these rehabilitation approaches, data suggest that intensive movement practice and neuromodulation combined with motor training should be further explored. Conclusions: This systematic review presents a novel approach to classify studies of rehabilitation in focal dystonias based on the theoretical basis of intervention. The proposed classification system will move toward a unified theoretical understanding of rehabilitation interventions in dystonia. Moreover, it will help provide recommendations for clinical applications and future investigations.
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