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Read Original Story

Odd Treadmill May Help Stroke Survivors

Rating

4 Star

Odd Treadmill May Help Stroke Survivors

Our Review Summary

The reporter has dealt well with a tough story: early observations about the neurology and mechanics of walking which have produced insights but no imminent clinical applications. The story conveys findings on basic neurological science in clear, accessible language. It indicates potential impact on practice and patients without overpromising. 

The reporter also shows some enterprise by reporting out the story in fuller feature form, rather than just conveying findings from the two recent published studies. The studies are used as a point of departure, not focus.

The report would have been improved with additonal context and balance:

  • A description of current practice in training people who have had strokes or brain damage to walk
  • Comments from a mainstream practitioner about the potential clinical value of the research 
  • Acknowledgment of any potential harms of the treatment

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Because the treatment is still early in its development and its ultimate use in rehab unclear, there is no need to report its cost.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

Since the story describes experiments that have produced new insights into the neurology of walking, there is no comparative data on similar treatments available.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story implicitly raises the question of whether long-term training on the treadmill could not only result in benefits, but in harm as well. It would have been useful to hear the researchers’ thoughts on this.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The article is about new insights into the neurology of walking. It provides sufficient description of the experiments that produced these insights. While the published articles in Brain and Nature Neuroscience have more specifics on test methods and populations, including them would not add significant value to the story. The article would benefit from more emphasis on the fact that this has not been evaluated adequately as a clinical treatment.  

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

Stroke and neurological injuries are very serious conditions, and the reporter does nothing to exaggerate their severity. The story does not exaggerate the potential value of the findings.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The reporter interviews the key researcher, a scientist at the Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation doing similar work, and a mother whose brain-damaged child showed temporary improvement. But it would have been very useful to hear from a mainstream stroke or brain-injury rehab specialist about how these findings might (or not) be applied.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Background about current post stroke and brain injury treatment and rehab practices would have been useful. The reader has the impression that this research could lead to revolutionary treatments, but it’s not clear how they would differ from current practice.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The reporter makes very clear that the treadmill protocol is still experimental. But the story would benefit from an estimate of the earliest date clinical applications could become available. Readers with loved ones who have had a stroke or brain damage would benefit from that reality check.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The treatment is novel, and the reporter describes it as such.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

The AP article bears little resemblance to the Kennedy-Krieger Institute press release on the research.

Total Score: 6 of 9 Satisfactory

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