Stroke patients benefit from family involvement in exercise therapy

Mar 04, 2011

Your family's involvement in your exercise therapy could significantly improve your function and recovery after stroke, according to a study in the March print issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers found that adding family-assisted to routine physical therapy after stroke improved motor function, balance, distance walked and ability to perform daily living activities. It also lowered the strain on the family member, who said participation lowered stress and was empowering.

"It's a win-win situation for everyone," said Emma Stokes, Ph.D., the study's principal investigator and Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. "People with stroke, their families and healthcare providers share in the benefit."

The study involved 40 male and female , all Caucasian. Half received routine exercise therapy, while the others received the FAmily Mediated Exercise intervention (FAME) in addition to routine therapy.

The routine exercise therapy group included seven men and 13 women, average age 70. The FAME group had 13 men and seven women, average age 63. Family members helped the stroke patient do exercises in 35-minute increments seven days per week for eight weeks to improve leg function. The exercises were simple enough to be done at the bedside, either at the hospital or at home. Exercise was tailored to each individual and modified weekly to reflect improvement. Researchers assessed the outcome of the two groups after the treatment period and at three-month follow-up.

Rose Galvin Ph.D, FAME's research physiotherapist conducted brief training sessions for the participating family members and met with them on a weekly basis.

Length of hospital stay in the family exercise group was an average 35 days compared to 40 days in the routine exercise group.

Researchers found statistically significant differences between FAME patients vs. routine care patients in eight measures of impairment and activity. For example, in the six-minute walk test, the routine group walked about 47 meters (154 feet) more after receiving therapy, while the FAME group walked about 164 meters (538 feet) more compared to baseline. Moreover, the FAME group survivors were significantly more integrated into their community at follow-up.

Family members who participated in the exercise therapy also experienced a major benefit.

"Instead of adding burden to the caregiver, participating in exercise actually enabled the member to do something practical for their loved one in hospital," Stokes said. "Caregivers were less stressed and more empowered."

Explore further: Health care organizations see value of telemedicine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Can exercise prevent a severe stroke?

Oct 20, 2008

A new study shows that people who are physically active before suffering a stroke may have less severe problems as a result and recover better compared to those who did not exercise before having a stroke. The research is ...

Study yields promising results for patients with stroke

Feb 11, 2011

One year after having a stroke, 52% of people who participate in either a physical therapy program that includes a walking program using a body-weight supported treadmill or a home-based program focused on progressive strength ...

Exercise therapy best for knee pain

Oct 21, 2009

For patients with severe knee pain, supervised exercise therapy is more effective at reducing pain and improving function than usual care, finds a study published on BMJ.com today.

Recommended for you

Health care organizations see value of telemedicine

5 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Health care organizations are developing and implementing telemedicine programs, although many have yet to receive reimbursement, according to a report published by Foley & Lardner.

Before you go... are you in denial about death?

12 hours ago

For most of us, death conjures up strong feelings. We project all kinds of fears onto it. We worry about it, dismiss it, laugh it off, push it aside or don't think about it at all. Until we have to. Of course, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.