A systematic review is a way to summarise the best available research evidence on effectiveness of healthcare interventions for patients, family members and healthcare professionals. As the leading resource for systematic reviews in healthcare, high standards are expected of contributors to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. We were therefore delighted to hear that, in the field of stroke, the top three most accessed Cochrane reviews of 2015 were led by Unit researchers. These reviews of interventions to improve arm function, mobility and communication also made it into the top 50 most cited Cochrane reviews from the whole Cochrane Library, which has over 17,000 reviews. Reacting to the news, the Unit’s Alex Pollock (pictured) said, “We are all motivated by a passion for improving the lives of people who have had a stroke. The access statistics for these reviews suggests that our efforts to identify best evidence are informing the practice of rehabilitation professionals including occupational, physio and speech and language therapists.”
Alex, Sybil Farmer and Marian Brady led the overview ‘Interventions for improving upper limb function after stroke’. By identifying more than 74 systematic reviews useful to clinicians and policy makers, they provided one accessible, comprehensive document to support decision making. However, they noted that the evidence for interventions used routinely in practice is insufficient, and that more than half of people with impairments to their arm following a stroke still have problems many months or years later. This means there is an urgent need for high quality research of the most promising interventions.
Alex was again involved with the second most accessed stroke review ‘Physical rehabilitation approaches for the recovery of function and mobility following stroke’, with colleagues this time including Pauline Campbell and Jacqui Morris. Their review suggested that physiotherapy which comprises well-chosen components from different approaches selected to suit an individual patient is more effective than physiotherapy confined to a single, named approach.
NMAHP RU ebulletin
29 November 2016