The influence of early cycling training on balance in stroke patients at the subacute stage. Results of a preliminary trial

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Abstract

Objective

To investigate the effect of early cycling training on balance and motor abilities of stroke patients in their subacute stage.

Design

Randomized clinical trial.

Setting

Inpatient rehabilitation.

Subjects

Twenty-four patients who had had a first stroke were randomly assigned to a cycling training group (N= 10) or to a control (N= 14) group.

Intervention

All subjects received their usual rehabilitation programme; the cycling training group received in addition a daily session of leg cycle ergometer, lasting three weeks. Both groups were followed for six weeks.

Main outcome measurements

Balance was assessed using the Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke Patients (PASS) and the standing balance test. The motor function of the lower extremity was also assessed by the Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA).

Results

In the within-group comparison, both the exercise group and the control group had improved significantly (P < 0.01) with time with respect to PASS total (exercise group 18.7±2.8 to 31.1 ± 2.2, control group 18.1 ± 3.2 to 26.4±3.8) and PASS subscores, as well as the FMA score (exercise group 17.2 ± 7.5 to 29.1 ± 5.9, control group 16.6±6.4 to 22.1±6.8). In addition there was a significant group-time interaction effect, with exercise group patients demonstrating better performance in both the total PASS score and PASS subscores and FMA score relative to the control patients (P < 0.01).

Conclusions

These preliminary findings suggest that stroke patients in the subacute stage can improve their motor and balance abilities after an early short duration of cycling training.

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