Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Exercise Science

First Advisor

Stacy Fritz



Background and Purpose: Evidenced-based practice promotes patient centered care, yet the majority of rehabilitative research fails to take into consideration patient perspectives. Patients can and should provide valuable insight on intervention processes. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility and benefits of a novel, intensive, task specific intervention for individuals with chronic stroke from the perspective of those who participated. Research Design: Qualitative analysis using a phenomenological approach. Methods: A purposive sample of eight participants voluntarily participating in an intensive, task-specific therapy was interviewed on three occasions: during the therapy, at the conclusion of therapy and one-month post therapy. In addition, a focus group was held with four participants and three family members. Data was collected via in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using Nvivo 8 software to identify common themes. Peer review, member checking and reflexivity were used to establish trustworthiness. Results: Five themes arose related to the feasibility of the intervention, including: a manageable amount of fatigue; a difficult, but doable level of intensity; a disappointingly short therapy duration; enjoyment of the intervention; and muscle soreness. Six themes related to the benefits of therapy arose during the data analysis, including: improvements in walking, ability to do daily activities, increased confidence in ability, improvements in balance, improvements in endurance, and improvements in lower extremity strength.


Discussion: These findings suggest that participants perceived this novel, intensive, task specific intervention as a feasible and beneficial therapeutic option. Despite the fatigue and muscle soreness associated with intensive rehabilitation, participants frequently reported enjoying the therapy and stated disappointment with the short duration (10 days). In addition, these findings support the purpose of the larger trial, identifying improvements in gait, balance and mobility. Other improvements outside the scope of the larger trial were also identified.

Conclusions: Further research should incorporate a mixed methods design to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of rehabilitation research.


© 2010, Angela Merlo