Background. The recovery of motor function following stroke is largely dependent on motor learning–related neuroplasticity. It has been hypothesized that intensive aerobic exercise (AE) training as an antecedent to motor task practice may prime the central nervous system to optimize motor recovery poststroke.
Objective. The objective of this study was to determine the differential effects of forced or voluntary AE combined with upper-extremity repetitive task practice (RTP) on the recovery of motor function in adults with stroke.
Methods. A combined analysis of 2 preliminary randomized clinical trials was conducted in which participants (n = 40) were randomized into 1 of 3 groups: (1) forced exercise and RTP (FE+RTP), (2) voluntary exercise and RTP (VE+RTP), or (3) time-matched stroke-related education and RTP (Edu+RTP). Participants completed 24 training sessions over 8 weeks.
Results. A significant interaction effect was found indicating that improvements in the Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA) were greatest for the FE+RTP group (P = .001). All 3 groups improved significantly on the FMA by a mean of 11, 6, and 9 points for the FE+RTP, VE+RTP, and Edu+RTP groups, respectively. No evidence of a treatment-by-time interaction was observed for Wolf Motor Function Test outcomes; however, those in the FE+RTP group did exhibit significant improvement on the total, gross motor, and fine-motor performance times (P ≤ .01 for all observations).
Conclusions. Results indicate that FE administered prior to RTP enhanced motor skill acquisition greater than VE or stroke-related education. AE, FE in particular, should be considered as an effective antecedent to enhance motor recovery poststroke.
via Forced, Not Voluntary, Aerobic Exercise Enhances Motor Recovery in Persons With Chronic Stroke – Susan M. Linder, Anson B. Rosenfeldt, Sara Davidson, Nicole Zimmerman, Amanda Penko, John Lee, Cynthia Clark, Jay L. Alberts, 2019