- Researchers from Sweden were interested in the importance of physical activity in the first 6 months after a stroke.
- Moves, fifth
leading cause of deathin the United States, they occur when a blood clot breaks or a vein in the brain bursts.
- The authors of the new study found that increasing activity levels improved study participants’ chances of having a better functional outcome after stroke.
blows they affect millions of people every year and can range from causing mild harm to death.
In non-fatal strokes, some of the outcomes people face can include loss of function on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, and lack of motor skills.
Functional outcome after a stroke is the basis for a new study published in
The authors of the study used data from
The authors were interested in participants who signed up for the study 2-15 days after having a stroke and who were also followed up over a six-month period.
Participants had to assess their physical activity after one week, one month, three months and six months for inclusion in the study.
Overall, 1367 participants qualified for the study, with 844 male participants and 523 female participants. The age of the participants ranged from 65 to 79, with an average age of 72.
During follow-up, doctors assessed the participants’ level of physical activity. Use Saltin-Grimby Physical Activity Level Scaletheir activity was assessed at one of four levels:
- physical activity of light intensity at least 4 hours a week
- physical activity of moderate intensity at least 3 hours a week
- high-intensity physical activity, such as the kind seen in training for competitive sports, lasting at least 4 hours per week.
The researchers then classified the participants into one of two categories: increase or decrease.
The group that increased included people who maintained light-intensity physical activity after reaching their maximum rate of increase between one week and one month after stroke and maintained light-intensity physical activity until the six-month point.
On the other hand, the decreased group included people who showed a decline in physical activity and eventually became inactive within six months.
Analysis of the study showed that of the two groups, the group that was growing had better prospects for functional recovery.
When looking at follow-ups, the group that increased physical activity continued light-intensity physical activity after reaching the maximum rate of increase between 1 week and 1 month.
The taper group had little decline in any physical activity at the one-week and one-month follow-up.
With the declining group, the entire group became inactive by the six-month follow-up examination.
Participants in the increase group were younger, predominantly male, able to walk without assistance, had healthy cognitive function, and did not need to use antihypertensives or anticoagulants compared to participants in the decrease.
The authors noted that although the severity of the stroke was a factor, some participants who had severe strokes were in the group that was on the rise.
“Although severe stroke patients might be expected to have poorer functional recovery despite physical activity levels, physical activity is still associated with better outcome regardless of stroke severity, supporting the health benefits of physical activity after stroke,” the study was written by the authors.
Overall, the study highlights the importance of encouraging physical activity early after stroke and targeting people who show a decline in physical activity in the first month after stroke.
Certified cardiologist Dr. Robert Pilchikbased in New York, who was not involved in the study, provided an opinion on the study for Medical news today.
“This study confirms what many of us have always suspected,” said Dr. Pilchik. “Physical activity immediately after a stroke plays a key role in restoring functional ability and re-establishing a normal lifestyle.”
“This is most important during the subacute period after the event (up to 6 months),” Dr. Pilchik continued. “Interventions undertaken during this time to improve participation in stroke survivors result in improved outcomes at 6 months.”
The main implication of this study is that patients do better when their physical activity increases over time in the first 6 months after stroke.
Dr. Adi Iyerneurosurgeon and interventional neuroradiologist at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, also spoke with MNT about the study. He said:
“Physical activity helps retrain the connections between the mind and muscles that may have been damaged after a stroke. Exercise helps to ‘rewire’ the brain so patients can regain lost function.”
Ryan Glattsenior brain health coach and director of the FitBrain program at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, CA, also weighed in.
“Physical activity after a brain injury (such as a stroke) appears to be important earlier in the process,” Glatt said. “Future studies implementing different physical activity interventions, including interdisciplinary rehabilitation, would be interesting to see how this affects outcomes.”
An interruption of blood flow to the brain causes a stroke. According to
Doctors treat ischemic strokes by trying to dissolve the blood clot. If that doesn’t work, doctors may need to perform a thrombectomy to remove the clot.
Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel bursts and causes bleeding in the brain. This bleeding can cause brain cells to die, and although hemorrhagic strokes are less common than ischemic strokes, they are more often fatal.
Doctors perform an operation to clip an aneurism — if this is the cause of the stroke — or repair damaged blood vessels.
Physical therapy is one component of rehabilitation and can help people who have had a stroke regain strength and mobility. In addition, physical therapy can help with balance and coordination.
Doctors also recommend speech therapy for some people who have had a stroke. Speech therapists work to retrain the muscles used in swallowing and speaking, as well as improving language processing skills.
Participating in recommended therapies can help people who have had a stroke improve their quality of life and perhaps return to some of their routine daily activities in time.