Feasibility of Adapted Aerobic Cycle Ergometry Tasks to Encourage Paretic Limb Use After Stroke: A Case Series

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Abstract

Cardiorespiratory fitness, along with sensorimotor recovery, is important for optimal function after stroke. Development of exercises that simultaneously address aerobic training and increase paretic limb involvement may improve outcomes and maximize productivity of therapy sessions. This case series assessed the feasibility of and characterized the cardiorespiratory and sensorimotor demands of adapted aerobic cycle ergometer activities hypothesized to increase paretic limb use. Mechanically loaded and electromyographic (EMG) feedback pedaling were compared to traditional pedaling in three poststroke case studies and a healthy control group. Submaximal oxygen uptake (Vo2), heart rate, perceived rate of exertion (RPE), and EMG of four leg muscles were assessed. Mechanically loaded ergometry increased RPE and altered muscle activity in healthy participants, while participants with stroke did not consistently increase paretic limb activation. EMG feedback pedaling increased target limb activity in healthy participants and decreased nonparetic activity in stroke participants. This paper highlights the challenges involved in adapting training tasks for individuals who are not able to walk at training intensities. Further work is necessary to refine adapted tasks for optimal effectiveness, and consideration of additional methods that permit differential interlimb loading may have additional value.

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