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Using the Borg rating of perceived exertion scale to grade the intensity of a functional training program of the affected upper limb after a stroke: a feasibility study

Authors Milot MH, Léonard G, Corriveau H, Desrosiers J

Received 14 July 2018

Accepted for publication 16 November 2018

Published 19 December 2018 Volume 2019:14 Pages 9—16

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S179691

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Marie-Hélène Milot, Guillaume Léonard, Hélène Corriveau, Johanne Desrosiers

University of Sherbrooke, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, School of Rehabilitation, Research Center on Aging, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada

Purpose: Intensity of a training program is a critical variable in treatment gains poststroke, but there are no guidelines to adequately dose the intensity of functional training (FT); the recommended type of training to promote poststroke recovery. Such guidelines are made available for strength training (ST) using the 1 repetition maximum (1RM), which has been linked to individuals’ self-rated level of exertion using the Borg rating of perceived exertion (BRPE) scale. The BRPE could be a valuable tool for clinicians to dose FT intensity after a stroke, but this remains to be tested. The main objective of the study was to evaluate the feasibility of the BRPE at grading FT intensity of the affected upper limb in older adults with a chronic stroke and secondarily to explore the clinical changes between FT and ST when the intensity is regulated with BRPE.
Patients and methods: Twelve participants were randomized into a FT or ST group and trained their affected upper limb (3 times/week for 4 weeks) with the intensity standardized with BRPE. Feasibility was assessed by adherence, occurrence of adverse events, and comparison of BRPE ratings between groups. Clinical changes were defined as improvements on the Fugl-Meyer motor assessment (FMA) and Wolf motor function test (WMFT).
Results: All participants adhered to FT/ST without adverse effects, and comparable BRPE ratings were noted between groups throughout the training (P≥0.42). Both groups showed significant gains at the FMA (ST: 5±4 points/FT: 6±4 points; P=0.04) and WMFT (ST: 0.4±0.3 points/FT: 0.6±0.4 points; P=0.05), which were comparable between groups (P≥0.47).
Conclusion: The results suggest that it is feasible to use the BRPE scale to adjust FT intensity. Gains in motor function in both groups suggest that undergoing therapy, regardless of its type, might be a sufficient stimulus to produce gains when intensity is adequately adjusted. Further studies are needed to validate the current observations.

Keywords: stroke, Borg rating of perceived exertion scale, functional training, strength training, feasibility, motor function

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