Exercise Helps Stroke Survivors Recover
More people are surviving a stroke than ever before. After a stroke, comes rehab—a program to help the person regain lost skills.
In an American Heart Association study, researchers showed that an intensive exercise program can help stroke survivors recover their motor skills.
Change in outlook
"For a long time, stroke has meant going to a nursing home to live out the rest of your life," says the study's lead author, Pamela W. Duncan, Ph.D., P.T, a rehabilitation science specialist in Gainesville, Fla. "We're trying to give people a renewed state of health through a more comprehensive, structured exercise program.
"This moves beyond the classic concept of rehabilitation. We're going beyond the acute phase of rehabilitation into everyday living not only to improve health and wellness, but to improve strength and balance."
The 20 stroke survivors in the study were divided into two groups of 10 to participate in exercise programs. One group did a very intensive program, and the other group followed a less intensive program. All people in the study had had a stroke 30 to 90 days before and had completed rehabilitation in the hospital. People in the less-intensive program were the control group. The two programs differed in the type of exercise required. For example, members of the control group did balance and resistance exercises but did not participate in any exercises to build endurance.
Focus on balance, strength
The people in the more intensive program exercised at home three times a week for eight weeks. A therapist oversaw the program. The program was designed to help increase balance, strength, and endurance.
Dr. Duncan and her colleagues found that those in the more intense home-based exercise program had greater improvement in motor skills than those on the less intensive program.
About two-thirds of people who have a stroke survive it. Approximately 4.5 million stroke survivors are alive today in the United States.
Online Medical Reviewers:
Egan, William MPT, OCS
Fincannon, Joy RN MN
Godsey, Cynthia M.S., M.S.N., APRN
Lambert, J.G. M.D.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
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