Somatosensory assessment and treatment after stroke: An evidence-practice gap Academic Article uri icon


  • Loss of body sensations is common after stroke, impacting negatively on recovery and performance of activities of daily living. Despite advances in the evidence for the assessment and treatment of somatosensory impairment post-stroke, the translation from research into clinical practice has been slow. The aim of this study was to determine current clinical practice of occupational therapists and physiotherapists in the assessment and treatment of somatosensory impairment post-stroke.A cross-sectional, self-administered online survey of occupational therapists and physiotherapists currently working with stroke clients in Australian health organisations, identified through an audit of stroke rehabilitation services and a professional member association.172 clinicians, 62.8% occupational therapists and 37.2% physiotherapists currently working with stroke clients completed the survey. Most respondents (93.0%) indicated routinely assessing for sensory loss in stroke clients. The most commonly used measures were light touch and proprioception, with the majority (70.4%) not using standardised measures. Most respondents (97.7%) reported providing treatment to address sensory impairment, with compensatory strategies and sensory re-education the two most frequently reported. Evidence-based treatment choices were not common and therapists frequently relied on colleagues' opinions and previous experience to inform practice. Therapists commonly experienced barriers to implementing evidence-based sensory rehabilitation, including time constraints, large caseloads and lack of access to evidence-based somatosensory assessment and treatment resources.Most therapists perceived somatosensory assessment and treatment as important. However, frequently utilised methods lack a sound theoretical or empirical basis. Despite published evidence regarding somatosensory assessment and treatment, an evidence-practice gap exists.

publication date

  • 2015