Physical activity essential for recovery after stroke

NEW STUDY. Physical activity after a stroke can be critical to successful recovery. People who exercise four hours a week after their stroke achieve better function in six months than those who do not. This is shown by a study at the University of Gothenburg.

The study, which is published in the scientific journal JAMA Network Open, is based on data on 1,500 stroke patients in 35 Swedish hospitals. The participants were grouped based on their physical activity patterns after the stroke.
The results show that increasing or maintaining physical activity, with four hours of exercise a week, doubled the chances of achieving a good recovery six months after a stroke. Men and people with good cognitive ability more often maintained an active life with better recovery as a result.

Exercise provides positive programming

The researchers have previously been able to demonstrate a clear connection between physical activity and the severity of the stroke symptoms at the time of the illness itself. The new findings highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle after a stroke.

First name and corresponding author in the study is Donni Buvarp. She conducts research in clinical neuroscience at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg and is a so-called research BT doctor at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Dongni Buvarp. photo Josefin Bergenholtz.

– Physical activity reprograms both the brain and the body in a positive way after a stroke, she says. Physical activity improves the body’s recovery at the cellular level, increases muscle strength and well-being, and reduces the risk of falls, depression and cardiovascular disease. Regardless of stroke severity, sufferers can benefit from increasing their exercise.

Important with knowledge and support

– Being physically active is very important, especially after a stroke. It is a message that both healthcare professionals, the affected and their loved ones should know. Women and people with impaired cognition seem to become less active after stroke. The study results indicate that these groups need more support to get started with physical activity, says Donni Buvarp.

A weakness of the study is that the researchers were not able to study how active the participants were before they suffered a stroke, except for a few people. The patients included were treated in Sweden during 2014-2019.

Title: Physical Activity Trajectories and Functional Recovery After Acute Stroke Among Adults in Sweden




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