The Sensor Technology and Rehabilitative Timing (START) Protocol: A Randomized Controlled Trial for the Rehabilitation of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Lucy Parrington, Deborah Ann Jehu, Peter C Fino, Sam Stuart, Jennifer Wilhelm, Natalie Pettigrew, Charles F Murchison, Mahmoud El-Gohary, Jess VanDerwalker, Sean Pearson, Timothy Hullar, James C. Chesnutt, Robert J Peterka, Fay B Horak, Laurie A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Clinical practice for rehabilitation after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is variable, and guidance on when to initiate physical therapy is lacking. Wearable sensor technology may aid clinical assessment, performance monitoring, and exercise adherence, potentially improving rehabilitation outcomes during unsupervised home exercise programs. OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this study were to: (1) determine whether initiating rehabilitation earlier than typical will improve outcomes after mTBI, and (2) examine whether using wearable sensors during a home-exercise program will improve outcomes in participants with mTBI. DESIGN: This was a randomized controlled trial. SETTING: This study will take place within an academic hospital setting at Oregon Health & Science University and Veterans Affairs Portland Health Care System, and in the home environment. PARTICIPANTS: This study will include 160 individuals with mTBI. INTERVENTION: The early intervention group (n = 80) will receive one-on-one physical therapy 8 times over 6 weeks and complete daily home exercises. The standard care group (n = 80) will complete the same intervention after a 6- to 8-week wait period. One-half of each group will receive wearable sensors for therapist monitoring of patient adherence and quality of movements during their home exercise program. MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome measure will be the Dizziness Handicap Inventory score. Secondary outcome measures will include symptomatology, static and dynamic postural control, central sensorimotor integration posturography, and vestibular-ocular-motor function. LIMITATIONS: Potential limitations include variable onset of care, a wide range of ages, possible low adherence and/or withdrawal from the study in the standard of care group, and low Dizziness Handicap Inventory scores effecting ceiling for change after rehabilitation. CONCLUSIONS: If initiating rehabilitation earlier improves primary and secondary outcomes post-mTBI, this could help shape current clinical care guidelines for rehabilitation. Additionally, using wearable sensors to monitor performance and adherence may improve home exercise outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-697
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Therapy
Issue number4
Early online date17 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2020


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