The Effects of Implicit and Explicit Motor Learning in Gait Rehabilitation of People After Stroke: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

Li-Juan Jie*, Melanie Kleynen, Kenneth Meijer, Anna Beurskens, Susy Braun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: A significant part of neurological rehabilitation focuses on facilitating the learning of motor skills. Training can adopt either (more) explicit or (more) implicit forms of motor learning. Gait is one of the most practiced motor skills within rehabilitation in people after stroke because it is an important criterion for discharge and requirement for functioning at home. Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the design of a randomized controlled study assessing the effects of implicit motor learning compared with the explicit motor learning in gait rehabilitation of people suffering from stroke. Methods: The study adopts a randomized, controlled, single-blinded study design. People after stroke will be eligible for participation when they are in the chronic stage of recovery (>6 months after stroke), would like to improve walking performance, have a slow walking speed (<1 m/s), can communicate in Dutch, and complete a 3-stage command. People will be excluded if they cannot walk a minimum of 10 m or have other additional impairments that (severely) influence gait. Participants will receive 9 gait-training sessions over a 3-week period and will be randomly allocated to an implicit or explicit group. Therapists are aware of the intervention they provide, and the assessors are blind to the intervention participants receive. Outcome will be assessed at baseline (T0), directly after the intervention (T1), and after 1 month (T2). The primary outcome parameter is walking velocity. Walking performance will be assessed with the 10-meter walking test, Dynamic Gait Index, and while performing a secondary task (dual task). Self-reported measures are the Movement Specific Reinvestment Scale, verbal protocol, Stroke and Aphasia Quality of Life Scale, and the Global Perceived Effect scale. A process evaluation will take place to identify how the therapy was perceived and identify factors that may have influenced the effectiveness of the intervention. Repeated measures analyses will be conducted to determine significant and clinical relevant differences between groups and over time. Results: Data collection is currently ongoing and results are expected in 2019. Conclusions: The relevance of the study as well as the advantages and disadvantages of several aspects of the chosen design are discussed, for example, the personalized approach and choice of measurements
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere142
Number of pages12
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2018


  • Journal Article
  • TASK
  • physiotherapy
  • implicit learning
  • stroke
  • CVA
  • explicit learning
  • analogy
  • rehabilitation
  • motor learning
  • analogy learning
  • gait


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