Objective: To analyze the effects of a progressive resistance and balance exercise program on the physical functioning, physical activity and psychological factors of individuals with chronic stroke.
Setting: Municipality, Sweden.
Design: A 3-month randomized controlled trial with follow-up examinations at 3, 6 and 15 months.
Participants: Sixty-seven community-living individuals (76% male; age range, 65–85 y) at least 1 year post-stroke.
Intervention: Individuals were randomly allocated to an intervention group (IG, n=34; progressive resistance and balance exercise program twice weekly for 3 months) or a control group (CG, n=33).
Methods: The primary outcomes were balance (Berg Balance Scale, 0–56 points) and mobility (Short Physical Performance Battery, 0–12 points) at 3 months. The secondary outcomes were walking capacity, 10-m comfortable walking speed, physical activity levels, health-related quality of life, depression and fall-related self-efficacy.
Results: Intention-to-treat analyses revealed that at 3 months, the IG exhibited significant improvements in balance (2.5 vs. 0, effect size [ES]; 0.72 [standard error (SE) 0.062]; P=0.001), walking capacity (30 vs. 0 m, effect size [ES]; 0.64 [standard error (SE) 0.07]; P=0.05) and comfortable walking speed (0.04 vs. - 0.05 m/s, ES; 0.68 [SE 0.067]; P=0.012) relative to the CG. At 6 and 15 months, the IG still exhibited a faster 10-m walking speed.
Conclusion: In chronic stroke patients, a progressive resistance and balance exercise program induced significant improvements in balance, walking capacity and walking speed; improvements in the latter category persisted up to 15 months.
stroke, exercise, randomized controlled trial, walking, high-intensity functional exercise