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Stroke. 2004 Jun;35(6):1404-9. Epub 2004 Apr 22.

High-intensity resistance training improves muscle strength, self-reported function, and disability in long-term stroke survivors.

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  • 1Human Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health Sciences, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University, Boston, Mass 02215, USA.



To evaluate the efficacy of supervised high-intensity progressive resistance training (PRT) on lower extremity strength, function, and disability in older, long-term stroke survivors.


Forty-two volunteers aged 50 years and above, 6 months to 6 years after a single mild to moderate stroke, were randomized into either a control group of upper extremity stretching or a PRT group that received a 12-week supervised high-intensity resistance training program consisting of bilateral leg press (LP), unilateral paretic and nonparetic knee extension (KE), ankle dorsiflexion (DF), and plantarflexion (PF) exercises. Functional performance was assessed using the 6-minute walk, stair-climb time, repeated chair-rise time, and habitual and maximal gait velocities. Self-reported changes in function and disability were evaluated using the Late Life Function and Disability Instrument (LLFDI).


Single-repetition maximum strength significantly improved in the PRT group for LP (16.2%), paretic KE (31.4%), and nonparetic KE (38.2%) with no change in the control group. Paretic ankle DF (66.7% versus -24.0%), paretic ankle PF (35.5% versus -20.3%), and nonparetic ankle PF (14.7% versus -13.8%) significantly improved in the PRT group compared with the control. The PRT group showed significant improvement in self-reported function and disability with no change in the control. There was no significant difference between groups for any performance-based measure of function.


High-intensity PRT improves both paretic and nonparetic lower extremity strength after stroke, and results in reductions in functional limitations and disability.

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