A Community-Based Group Exercise Program for Persons with Chronic Stroke

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ENG, J. J., K. S. CHU, C. M. KIM, A. S. DAWSON, A. CARSWELL, and K. E. HEPBURN. A Community-Based Group Exercise Program for Persons with Chronic Stroke. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 8, pp. 1271–1278, 2003.PurposeThe purpose of this study was to evaluate the physical and psychosocial effects of an 8-wk community-based functional exercise program in a group of individuals with chronic stroke.MethodsTwenty-five subjects (mean age 63 yr) participated in a repeated measures design that evaluated the subjects with two baseline assessments 1 month apart, one postintervention assessment, and one retention assessment 1 month postintervention. Physical outcome measures assessed were the Berg Balance Test, 12-Minute Walk Test distance, gait speed, and stair climbing speed. Psychosocial measures assessed were the Reintegration to Normal Living Index (RNL) and Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM). The 8-wk training consisted of a 60-min, 3× wk−1 group program that focused on balance, mobility, functional strength, and functional capacity. The program was designed to be accessible by reducing the need for costly one-on-one supervision, specialized settings, and expensive equipment.ResultsImprovements from the exercise program were found for all physical measures and these effects were retained 1-month postintervention. Subjects with lower function improved the most relative to their initial physical status. Significant effects were found for the COPM, but not the RNL Index; however, subjects with lower RNL improved the most relative to their initial RNL Score.ConclusionA short-term community-based exercise program can improve and retain mobility, functional capacity, and balance and result in a demonstrable impact upon the performance of activities and abilities that were considered meaningful to the subjects. Implementation of such community-based programs has potential for improving activity tolerance and reducing the risk for secondary complications common to stroke (e.g., falls resulting in fractures and cardiac events).

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