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Arm training improves leg function in stroke patients, study finds


A study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology has found a strategy in improving the walking ability of individuals who suffered from stroke.

  • A team of researchers from the University of Victoria in Canada examined the effect of arm training on leg function after stroke.
  • The research team recruited 19 individuals who experienced a stroke between seven months and 17 years before the study.
  • The study participants took part in three 30-minute, moderate-intensity arm cycling training sessions per week for five weeks.
  • The researchers also measured the study participants’ physical abilities before and after the arm training intervention with the use of some standardized scales.
  • They also conducted three physical function tests: Six Minute Walk, which measures how far a person can walk in six minutes; Timed 10-Meter Walk, which evaluates how fast a person can walk 10 meters; and Timed Up and Go, which assesses the time it takes to stand up from a seated position, walk 10 feet, turn around, walk back, and sit down again.
  • Moreover, they examined electrical activity in the muscles and stretch reflexes in the lower legs and wrists in both arm cycling and walking tests.
  • Results revealed that participants enhanced their performance on all walking tests.
  • Although there was no significant change in grip strength, some participants had reduced tightness in their muscles after the arm cycling test.
  • The arm cycling trial also increased nerve activity, which enhanced function of the spinal cord in other areas of the body, including the legs, affected by stroke.

The findings of the study suggested that arm training exercises may stimulate nerve activity and improve leg function in stroke patients.

For the full text of the study, go to this link.

Journal Reference:

Kaupp C, Pearcey GEP , Klarner T, Sun Y, Barss TS, Hilary CE, Zehr P. RHYTHMIC ARM CYCLING TRAINING IMPROVES WALKING AND NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL INTEGRITY IN CHRONIC STROKE-THE ARMS CAN GIVE LEGS A HELPING HAND IN REHABILITATION. Journal of Neurophysiology, 2018; 119(3): 1095-1112. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00570.2017

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