Background and Purpose: Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Stroke can cause deficits in one’s ability to walk independently, cause deficits in balance, and lead to a variety of other health issues as a sequela of paresis and prolonged physical inactivity.1 The purpose of this systematic review is to evaluate the efficacy of high intensity training (HIT) for the rehabilitation of patients with stroke.
Methods: A systematic review was performed utilizing five databases using search terms “stroke rehabilitation” and “high intensity training”. Article titles and abstracts were screened to include key words “stroke”, “high intensity training”, “resistance training”, “interval training”, “power training”, or “step training”. Research studies using subjects with co-morbidities other than stroke and its residuum were excluded.
Results: After meeting the selection criteria, 10 studies were selected for review. A review of each article’s subject population, tests performed, intervention, and result, reveal that many types of high intensity training have a positive effect on functional and health outcomes in patients with stroke.
Conclusion: High intensity training (HIT) has a positive effect on the rehabilitative potential of patients with stroke. HIT is shown to improve patient’s respiratory function, walking ability, balance, functional ability and other key areas.
Stroke can be defined as an acute neurologic dysfunction of vascular origin from a hemorrhagic or ischemic event causing a disruption of blood flow to tissues of the brain.2 Strokes are a global health issue affecting 16 million people each year. It is estimated that by the year 2030 there will be 77 million survivors of stroke worldwide. Each year, 114 of 100,000 people in the United States will suffer their first stroke, accounting for 75% of hospitalizations due to stroke. The remaining 25% of stroke hospitalizations are of patients with recurrent strokes. Patient risk factors for stroke include, but are not limited to hypertension, smoking, diabetes, obesity, dyslipidemia, and elevated homocysteine.3 The long-term implications of a stroke depend upon how early a stroke is recognized and treated. Clinical manifestations following a stroke can include a loss of balance, speech and visual deficits, cognitive dysfunction and hemiparesis. There is potential for the spontaneous recovery of certain deficits in the first few weeks following a stroke, however there is likelihood for long-term dysfunction. The most prevalent long-term dysfunction after a stroke are motor impairments secondary to hemiparesis; which reduces muscle mass and the force of muscle contraction causing lower limb weakness, loss of mobility and gait deficiencies of the affected side.2,3
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