A physio-led group exercise class is helping stroke survivors in Bristol to improve their physical function, gain confidence and socialise more.
Physiotherapy student Kira Mills helps a class attendee improve their mobility and balance
The programme started in 2016 and is run in partnership with local charity the Bristol Area Stroke Foundation. It is funded by South Gloucestershire Council.
Praveen Kumar, a senior physiotherapy lecturer at the University of West England, leads the initiative and runs the courses with the assistance of physiotherapy and sports rehabilitation students.
He told Frontline that he runs the eight-week course, called Next Steps, three times a year, with each class taking up to 12 people who are recovering from a stroke.
The initiative has recruited stroke survivors with a wide range of abilities and disabilities and varying lengths of time since their strokes.
‘Attendees take part in a variety of exercises, including balance re-training, gait training, cardio-vascular training, muscle strength and step-up exercises and upper limb re-training,’ said Dr Kumar.
Participants are assessed before and after completing the programme, using standardised outcome measures and a quality of life questionnaire. These show that people attending the classes have experienced benefits including
- improved walking
- better balance
- increased use of arms for various activities of daily living
In addition, feedback indicates that people have experienced increased confidence, motivation and support, as well as perceiving the classes as a good opportunity for socialising.
One attendee commented: ‘There was a stage when I could not even stand or balance, so walking was still the stuff of dreams. Learning to walk again and be positive about a recovery process was very important and the group encouraged this.’
Last year Dr Kumar presented an abstract about the project to the World Stroke Congress and the UK Stroke Forum.
Author: Robert Millett
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