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Disabil Rehabil. 2019 Jan 22:1-7. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1519042. [Epub ahead of print]

Experiences of people with stroke and multiple sclerosis and caregivers of a community exercise programme involving a healthcare-recreation partnership.

Author information

a Rehabilitation Sciences Institute , University of Toronto , Toronto , Canada.
b Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy , University of Toronto , Toronto , Canada.
c Toronto Rehabilitation Institute , University Health Network , Toronto , Canada.
d Department of Physical Therapy, College of Rehabilitation Sciences , University of Manitoba , Winnipeg , Canada.
e Department of Physical Therapy , University of Toronto , Toronto , Canada.



To explore perceptions of people with neurological conditions and their caregivers of the health benefits of a group, task-oriented community-based exercise programme incorporating a healthcare-recreation partnership.


Descriptive qualitative study. Individuals with balance and mobility deficits from a neurological condition, and their caregivers, were interviewed on completion of a group, task-oriented community-based exercise programme incorporating a healthcare-recreation partnership. A thematic analysis was performed.


Nine people post-stroke, and four people with multiple sclerosis (MS) (nā€‰=ā€‰13; 54% male) and 12 caregivers (83% spouses) participated. Two themes emerged. One theme indicated that the programme fosters diverse, interrelated health benefits. Participants described experiences of improved balance, strength, and confidence that translated to improved everyday functioning and social participation. Benefits were reinforced through repeated programme registration. A second theme indicated that caregivers experience challenges and diverse benefits related to the programme. Transportation and programme cost were primary challenges. Caregivers described emotional health benefits from assisting participants during classes and observing participants improvement over time.


Group, task-oriented community-based exercise programmes incorporating a healthcare-recreation partnership may yield health benefits for exercise participants and caregivers. Results can guide programme evaluation, the nature and timing of education about such programmes, and efforts to address cost and transportation issues. Implications of rehabilitation Stroke and multiple sclerosis commonly cause balance and mobility limitations that can result in physical inactivity and further deterioration in health. Group, task-oriented community-based exercise programmes in which rehabilitation professionals train and support fitness instructors to deliver the exercise programme in community centres may increase access to exercise participation for this group. Study results suggest by improving balance and mobility, these programmes help increase independence in activities of daily living and social and leisure participation, while improving caregiver mental health and decreasing the need for caregiver assistance. Rehabilitation professionals can use findings to inform patient education, and support programme implementation and referral.


Stroke; balance; caregivers; community; mobility; multiple sclerosis; qualitative research; task-oriented exercise

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