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Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2017 Apr;53(2):228-239. doi: 10.23736/S1973-9087.16.04322-7. Epub 2016 Sep 14.

Effects of low-intensity endurance and resistance training on mobility in chronic stroke survivors: a pilot randomized controlled study.

Author information

1
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Surgical Specialties, Section of Sport Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.
2
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Ferrara University Hospital, Ferrara, Italy.
3
Vascular Diseases Center, Unit of Translational Surgery, Ferrara University Hospital, Ferrara, Italy - mlgnmr@unife.it.
4
Esercizio Vita Nonprofit Cooperative, Ferrara, Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Chronic stroke survivors are exposed to long-term disability and physical deconditioning, effects that may impact their independence and quality of life. Community-based programs optimizing the dose of exercise therapy that are simultaneously low risk and able to achieve high adherence should be identified.

AIM:

We tested the hypothesis that an 8-week, community-based, progressive mixed endurance-resistance exercise program at lower cardiovascular and muscular load yielded more mobility benefits than a higher-intensity program in chronic stroke survivors.

DESIGN:

A two-arm, parallel-group, pilot randomized, controlled clinical trial.

SETTING:

Hospital (recruitment); community-based adapted physical activity center (training).

POPULATION:

Thirty-five chronic stroke patients (mean age: 68.4┬▒10.4 years; 27 males).

METHODS:

Participants were randomized to a low-intensity experimental (LI-E; N.=18) or a high-intensity active control group (HI-C; N.=17). Patients in the LI-E group performed over-ground intermittent walking (weeks 1-8) and muscle power training with portable tools (weeks 5-8); patients in the HI-C group executed treadmill walking (weeks 1-8) and strength training with gym machines (weeks 5-8). Changes in mobility, assessed using the 6-Minute Walking Distance test, were the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included quality of life (Short-Form-36 Questionnaire), gait speed (10-Meter Walking Test), balance (Berg Balance Scale) and muscle performance of the lower limbs (strength and power of the quadriceps and femoral biceps).

RESULTS:

After 8 weeks, the 6MWD revealed more improvement for the LI-E group than the HI-C group (P=0.009). The SF36 physical activity domain (P=0.012) and peak power of the femoral quadriceps and biceps were also significantly improved for the LI-E group (P=0.008 and P<0.001, respectively) compared with the HI-C. Gait speed, balance and lower-limb strength increased in both groups; no significant differences were noted. The muscle power of the affected limb was the muscle parameter most correlated with mobility in the entire population.

CONCLUSIONS:

A low-intensity exercise program exhibited better results in terms of mobility, quality of life and muscle power compared with a higher-intensity program. Data need to be confirmed in a larger trial.

CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT:

The effectiveness, low-intensity and possible implementation in poorly equipped community-based settings make the LI-E program potentially suitable for stroke survivors and frail individuals.

PMID:
27626795
DOI:
10.23736/S1973-9087.16.04322-7
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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