News at Medicine - October 2018 - New research shows stroke patients should get active

New research shows stroke patients should get active
October 19, 2018
A study by Dr. Michelle Ploughman shows that aerobic exercise combined with cognitive training can make a significance difference for stroke patients.
In fact, it improved executive function by almost 50 per cent in chronic stroke patients who were presumed to have reached their recovery plateau. The study was presented at the 11th World Stroke Congress this week.

The study, which also involved clinicians from Dalhousie University in Halifax, assigned patients who were greater than six months post-stroke - beyond the period when major recovery was thought to occur - to separate groups to do different motion activities - aerobic exercise and less strenuous movements and tasks - and paired them with one of two cognitive activities, computerized cognitive training and non-adapted computer games.

They found that while both groups doing computerized cognitive training saw significantly improved fluid intelligence scores, only the computerized cognitive training group doing aerobic exercise was significantly different from the group doing and less strenuous movements and tasks non-adapted computer games, showing a 50 per cent higher level of improvement.

"Although many people with stroke may have some cognitive impairment, cognition is rarely a target of rehabilitation interventions, yet those with impaired attention and executive functions likely don't receive the full benefits of physical rehabilitation," said Dr. Ploughman, Canada Research Chair in Neuroplasticity, Neurorehabilitation and Brain Recovery.
"As a result, several years later, even if discharged from rehabilitation, they continue to have problems with cognition and participation in their communities. Our study shows that it is conceivable that aerobic exercise could serve to 'prime' the brain to enhance relearning of tasks and that such efforts can improve multiple outcomes at the same time."
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