We must challenge the common assumption that most sensorimotor therapies are universally applicable and will achieve the same benefit for all people with stroke. The magnitude of change and likelihood of achieving clinically meaningful improvement in response to specific therapies will depend on age, stroke severity, and other factors including pre-existing comorbid conditions (e.g. diabetes, cognitive impairment, depression)5 and pre-stroke lifestyle factors (e.g. social engagement, exercise).6 The respective contributions of these factors have yet to be fully understood. Going forward, we need to identify the determinants that may help predict responders and non-responders to interventions.
The measurement working group of the Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation Roundtable (SRRR)7 was established to develop recommendations for standardized assessment time points and measures to be included in all adult trials of sensorimotor recovery after stroke. Given the current lack of standards for data collection and heterogeneous reports in stroke recovery trials, our expert group also considered pre-stroke clinical, demographic and stroke-related data that should be collected to improve clinical prediction of recovery and characterization of patient cohorts.
The decision to focus on sensorimotor recovery reflects the volume of existing trials in this area, the range of outcomes currently in use across these trials, and the gap in current research that known international initiatives has not addressed (e.g. Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials Initiative (COMET), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Common Data Elements (NINDS CDE), The International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM),8 Improving Research Outcome Measurement in Aphasia (ROMA)9 and Standardization of Measures in Arm Rehabilitation Trials after Stroke (SMART), Supplementary Table 1). Acknowledging that clinical measures cannot distinguish between true neurological repair (behavioral restitution) and use of compensatory strategies,10 a second objective was to consider whether we could recommend specific kinetic and/or kinematic outcomes that reflect quality of motor performance in order to better understand the neurophysiological changes that occur when patients improve.11,12 Our overall objective of the roundtable was to provide recommendations that, if applied, could improve the methodology of rehabilitation and recovery trials, help build our understanding of the trajectory of stroke recovery and aid discovery of new and more targeted treatments.