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Exercise post-stroke should be offered as with heart attack patients

17 August 2012 - 3:26pm

People who have had a stroke should be offered exercise programmes similar to cardiac rehabilitation physical activity services, according to senior physiotherapists and other specialists.

The UK Stroke and Exercise Forum, meeting on Thursday at the World Congress on Healthy Ageing in Glasgow, agreed there was a need for an integrated pathway to encourage stroke survivors to be more physically active.
 

Stroke rehab guidance

Dr Victoria Goodwin, a physiotherapist and researcher based at Exeter University, said there was a need for a clear pathway. She described her team’s work to synthesise and analyse 15 separate existing guidelines on stroke rehabilitation and exercise from across the world.
 
‘We know there’s all this evidence [that physical activity benefits stroke survivors] but it’s hard to take on board because there’s so much of it,’ she said. ‘Existing guidelines have a varied focus on exercise - there’s a mixed picture - and it’s important to get clear messages out there that this is important.’
 

Take-up varies

Earlier, Dr Jacqui Morris, a physiotherapist and researcher based at Dundee University, described how people’s beliefs and values about stroke and physical exercise shaped the likelihood of their taking up exercise programmes.
 
Research which involved questioning patients, carers and physiotherapists is beginning to show that those stroke survivors who believe that lifestyle factors caused their stroke are more likely to take control and exercise than those who react passively.
 
The Forum agreed that a pathway should involve several elements, including asking patients about their physical activity before stroke, in the same way that they ask about smoking. All patients should be given advice on physical activity during their rehabilitation, and could possibly have ‘taster’ sessions with a qualified fitness instructor before discharge.
 

Education needed

They also agreed that more education is needed - of doctors, the general public, and physiotherapists - about the benefits of physical activity after stroke.
 
Earlier Dr Andrew Murray, a GP and the Scottish Government’s physical activity champion, said that all patients should be asked about physical activity at every opportunity, and advice offered in the form of a brief intervention, similar to those designed for alcohol use.
 
See links below for more reports from the World Congress on Active Ageing conference.

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