How much exercise/practice is needed to make improvements following stroke?

a woman stretching

How much exercise/practice is needed to make improvements following stroke?

Following stroke, pathways within the brain are damaged. For improvements to occur, changes need to happen within the brain. This process called neuroplasticity. It is commonly known that physiotherapy and exercise are effective in driving neuroplasticity, but how much should you practice is an important question to answer, and the answers will be different in each individual.

Following a stroke tasks to practice may include:

  • standing up from sitting
  • being able to balance once standing
  • being able to walk without a mobility aid
  • being able to run
  • returning to a sport or hobby

Unfortunately, there is no known magic number of repetitions to complete that will optimise recovery. What we do know is that a high dosage of exercise is imperative. In a study from Scrivener (2012) it was found that those that completed leg exercises with more than 700 repetitions had a greater likelihood of being able to walk independently at day 20 following their stroke. The higher amount of repetitions also resulted in increased walking speeds when discharged from the hospital. 

There have been multiple studies looking into both how much therapy should occur and how many repetitions should be completed. The take-home message from the research is consistent — that more you put in, the better the result will be. It is fair to assume that to gain the most from your effort you should be completing hundreds or even thousands of repetitions. 

The best way to stay motivated is to record your progress and ensure the exercises challenging but achievable. Also, make sure they are specific to your needs. This will give you the best shot to achieve your goals.

How can Equip Rehabilitation help with optimising your repetitions?

  • We provide tailored exercise programs that are specific to the goal you need to achieve.
  • The exercises are made to be challenging but achievable.
  • We listen to you and understand that completing high repetitions is mentally tough, requires hard work and commitment. Our aim is to work with you to make your goals realistic and your outcome as  rewarding as possible.
  • We carry all the equipment that you would expect to find in a rehabilitation clinic and are able to physically assist with more challenging tasks. 

Increasing your repetitions is effective for improving strength and task performance, even if the stroke was years ago.

References:

Scrivener K, Sherrington C, Schurr K. Exercise dose and mobility outcome in a comprehensive stroke unit: description and prediction from a prospective cohort study. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 2012;44:824-9.

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