To assess the feasibility and safety of a 6-week course of water walking performed using a motorized aquatic treadmill in individuals with subacute stroke for cardiorespiratory fitness, walking endurance, and activities of daily living.METHODS:
Twenty subacute stroke patents were randomly assigned to aquatic treadmill exercise (ATE) or land-based exercise (LBE). The ATE group (n = 10) performed water-based aerobic exercise on a motorized aquatic treadmill, and the LBE group (n = 10) performed land-based aerobic exercise on a cycle ergometer. Both groups performed aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, 5 times per week for 6 weeks. Primary outcome measures were 6-minute walk test for walking endurance and cardiopulmonary fitness parameters of a symptom-limited exercise tolerance test, and secondary measures were Korean version of the Modified Barthel Index (K-MBI) for activities of daily living. All variables were assessed at baseline and at the end of the intervention.RESULTS:
The ATE group showed significant improvements in 6-minute walk test (P = .005), peak oxygen uptake (V·o2peak; P = .005), peak heart rate (P = .007), exercise tolerance test duration (P = .005), and K-MBI (P = .008). The LBE group showed a significant improvement only in K-MBI (P = .012). In addition, improvement in V·o2peak was greater in the ATE than in the LBE group.CONCLUSION:
This preliminary study showed that a 6-week ATE program improved peak aerobic capacity and walking endurance in patients with subacute stroke. The improvement in V·o2peak after an ATE exercise program was greater than that observed after an LBE program. Therefore, ATE effectively improves cardiopulmonary fitness in patients with subacute stroke.