Utilization of Aerobic Exercise in Adult Neurological Rehabilitation by Physical Therapists in Canada


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Abstract

Background and Purpose:Although aerobic exercise (AE) has been shown to improve aerobic capacity and reduce morbidity in neurological populations, its application is challenging. The purpose of this study was to survey Canadian physical therapists practicing in adult neurorehabilitation regarding the use of AE in clinical practice.Methods:Members of the Neurosciences Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association were invited to participate in a Web-based survey.Results:Response rate was 36% (N = 155) with every Canadian province represented. The majority of respondents were females in full-time practice for more than 15 years. The majority (88%) agreed/strongly agreed with the following: “AE should be incorporated into treatment programs of patients with neurological conditions.” Although 77% prescribed AE, barriers to use included patient concerns (cardiac status, cognitive/perceptual deficits, fatigue) and operations (lack of staff, time, screening tools). The most commonly used screening tools were health records and patient responses to exercise and the least common was exercise stress tests. Overground walking and cycle ergometry were the most frequently used AE modes, and general response to exercise and patient feedback were most frequently used for determining exercise intensity and monitoring AE.Discussion and Conclusions:Respondents clearly recognized the importance of AE in neurorehabilitation. Barriers to application of AE and limitations in the use of appropriate screening and training procedures need to be addressed to advance clinical utilization of AE in neurological practice. Understanding current patterns of utilization of AE is important for the development of professional education initiatives and clinical guidelines for best practices in AE for neurological populations. Video Abstract available (see Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1, available at: http://links.lww.com/JNPT/A40) for more insights from the authors.

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