Patients' perspectives on aerobic exercise early after stroke.

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Abstract

PURPOSE

To describe patient perspectives of aerobic exercise during inpatient stroke rehabilitation, including their self-efficacy and beliefs towards exercise, as well as their perceptions of barriers.

METHOD

A survey was conducted at three Canadian rehabilitation centres to evaluate individuals' (N = 33) self-efficacy and outcome expectations for exercise. In addition, patient perceptions of other people recovering from stroke, social support, and aerobic exercise as part of rehabilitation were assessed.

RESULTS

Thirty-two people completed the survey. Of these, 97% were willing to participate in aerobic exercise 5.9 ± 8.8 days after admission to inpatient rehabilitation. While outcome expectations for exercise were high, participants reported lower self-efficacy for exercise. Patients reported barriers related to the ability to perform exercise (other health problems (i.e., arthritis), not being able to follow instructions and physical impairments) more often than safety concerns (fear of falling). The lack of support from a spouse and family were commonly identified, as was a lack of information on how to perform aerobic exercise.

CONCLUSION

Patients with stroke are willing to participate in aerobic exercise within a week after admission to inpatient rehabilitation. However, they perceive a lack of ability to perform aerobic exercise, social support from family and information as barriers. Implications for rehabilitation Aerobic exercise is recognized as part of comprehensive stroke rehabilitation. There is a need to better understand patient perspectives to develop and implement more effective interventions early after stroke. Patients lack confidence in their ability to overcome barriers early after stroke. Patients are concerned with their ability to perform exercise, fall risk, lack of support from a spouse and family, and limited information on aerobic exercise. There is a need to reinforce education with practical experience in structured aerobic exercise programs that show patients and caregivers how to manage disability and complex health needs.

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