The purpose of this randomised controlled trial was to evaluate the effects of two different exercise approaches during the first 12 months post stroke on Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL), motor function, gait performance, balance, grip strength, and muscle tone. This study is a double-blind longitudinal randomised trial of first-time-ever stroke patients. Seventy-five patients were included: 35 in an intervention group and 40 in a self-initiated exercise group. After discharge from acute rehabilitation, patients assigned in the intervention group had physiotherapy for a minimum amount of 80 hours during the first year. Patients in the self-initiated exercise group were not recommended any specific therapy besides treatment when needed. Main outcome measures were Instrumental Activities of Daily Living according to Fillenbaum, Motor Assessment Scale, 6-Minute Walk Test, Berg Balance Scale, Timed Up-and-Go Test, grip strength, Modified Ashworth Scale, and pulse monitoring. The patients were tested on admission, at discharge, and after 3, 6, and 12 months post stroke by an experienced investigator, blinded to group assignment. Twelve months post stroke showed higher levels of independence in all items of the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Test and improvements in the results of Motor Assessment Scale, 6-Minute Walk Test, Berg Balance Scale, Timed Up-and-Go, and grip strength in both groups. Only a few significant differences were seen between groups, and they were in favour of the self-initiated exercise group (e.g., ability to use the telephone independently). Attending examination sessions following each intervention phase appeared to be strong motivators for training, irrespective of group allocation.
2009. Vol. 25, no 2, 55-68 p.