Rehabilitation interventions for improving balance following stroke: an overview of systematic reviews

Chiara Arienti, Stefano Lazzarini, Alex Pollock, Stefano Negrini

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33 Citations (Scopus)
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The aim of this study was to synthesize evidence from systematic reviews, to summarise the effects of rehabilitation interventions for improving balance in stroke survivors.

We conducted an overview of systematic reviews (SRs). We included Cochrane Systematic Reviews and non-Cochrane Systematic Reviews of randomized-controlled clinical trials and not-randomized clinical trials, in all types of stroke, comparing the effects of interventions, control interventions and no interventions on balance-related outcomes. We conducted a comprehensive search of electronic databases, from inception to December 2017. Data extracted included: number and type of participants, type of intervention, control intervention, method of assessing risk of bias of primary studies, balance outcome measures and results of statistical meta-analyses. Methodological quality of included reviews was assessed using AMSTAR 2. A narrative description of the characteristics of the SRs was provided and results of meta-analyses summarised with reference to their methodological quality.

51 SRs (248 primary studies and 10,638 participants) met the inclusion criteria and were included in the overview. All participants were adults with stroke. A wide variety of different balance and postural control outcomes were included. 61% of SRs focussed on the effectiveness of physical therapy, 20% virtual reality, 6% electromechanical devices, 4% Tai-Chi, whole body vibration and circuit training intervention, and 2% cognitive rehabilitation. The methodology of 54% of SRs were judged to be of a “low or critically low” quality, 23% “moderate” quality and 22% “high” quality.

There are 51 SRs of evidence relating to the effectiveness of interventions to improve balance in people with stroke, but the majority of these are of poor methodological quality, limiting our ability to draw clear implications. Only 22% of these SRs were judged to be of high quality, highlighting the need to address important methodological issues within rehabilitation research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0219781
Pages (from-to)e0219781
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2019


  • chronic pain/therapy
  • exercise therapy/methods
  • humans
  • physical therapy modalities/psychology
  • postural balance
  • quality of life
  • randomized controlled trials as topic
  • stroke rehabilitation
  • stroke/physiopathology
  • survivors
  • systematic reviews as topic
  • treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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