After stroke, maximal voluntary force is reduced in the arm and hand muscles, and upper-limb strength training is 1 intervention with the potential to improve function. This study performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Strength training articles were assessed according to outcomes: strength, upper-limb function, and activities of daily living. The standardized mean difference (SMD) was calculated to estimate the pooled effect size with random-effect models. From the 650 trials identified, 13 were included in this review, totaling 517 individuals. A positive outcome for strength training was found for grip strength and upper-limb function. No treatment effect was found for strength training on measures of activities of daily living. A significant effect for strength training on upper-limb function was found for studies including subjects with moderate and mild upper-limb motor impairment. No trials reported adverse effects.
There is evidence that strength training can improve upper-limb strength and function without increasing tone or pain in individuals with stroke.