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Stroke Patients Need More Than Words to Get Active

Verbal instructions to exercise appear to be ineffectual, study suggests

FRIDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Using verbal encouragement does not appear to result in increased physical activity in patients who have had an ischemic stroke, according to a study published online July 22 in BMJ.

Gudrun Boysen, M.D., of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues conducted a study of 314 patients aged 40 years and above who had had an ischemic stroke and who were able to walk, of whom 157 were randomized to a detailed program of training over a 24-month period, during which time they also had five follow-up visits. The remaining 157 patients formed the control group.

The patients in the intervention group and those in the control group had similar scores on the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly, at 69.1 and 64.0, respectively, the researchers discovered. The authors further note that the intervention also had no impact on mortality, recurrent stroke, myocardial infarction, falls or fractures.

"The best and most cost-effective way of increasing physical activity after stroke has not been found," Boysen and colleagues conclude. "Supervised group training of long duration might be an avenue to be explored. However, it is unknown if increased physical activity will influence risk of recurrent vascular events in stroke survivors. A single recommendation to exercise at the time of discharge from hospital, as it is most often done in stroke units, is unlikely to have any long-term effect on behavior."

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