To investigate the effects of water-based exercise on functioning and quality of life in poststroke persons.
We searched the following electronic database: MEDLINE, PeDro, Scielo, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials up to September 2018 Study Selection: Only randomized controlled trials were included. Two review authors screened the titles and abstracts and selected the trials independently.
Two review authors independently extracted data of the included trials, using standard data-extraction model. We analyzed the pooled results using weighted mean differences, and standardized mean difference and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.
Twenty-four studies met the study criteria, but only 15 studies were included on meta-analyses. The studies presented moderate methodological quality, due to the lack of blinding of subjects and therapists and the nonperformance of the intention-to-treat analysis. Water-based exercise compared with land exercise had a positive impact on: muscle strength balance gait speed and mobility aerobic capacity and functional reach. Combined water-based exercise and land exercise was more effective than land exercise for improving balance, gait speed, and functional reach. The meta-analysis showed significant improvement in role limitations due to physical functioning and emotional problems, in vitality general mental health, social functioning, and bodily pain for participants in the water-based exercise and land exercise group versus land exercise group.
Water-based exercise may improve muscle strength, balance, mobility, aerobic capacity, functional reach, joint position sense, and quality of life in poststroke persons and could be considered for inclusion in rehabilitation programs.