Objective: To determine the effectiveness of progressive resistance strengthening exercises to improve gross motor function and walking in patients receiving intensive rehabilitation after stroke.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Five inpatient rehabilitation programs affiliated with teaching hospitals.
Participants: Inclusion criteria included less than 6 months poststroke and recovery of the leg stages 3 to 5 on the Chedoke-McMaster Stroke Assessment (CMSA).
Interventions: Both groups received conventional physical therapy programs. In addition, the experimental group performed 9 lower-extremity progressive resistance exercises 3 times a week for the duration of their stay, whereas the control group did the same exercises and for the same duration but without resistance.
Main outcome measures: The Disability Inventory of the CMSA and the 2-minute walk test (2MWT) at baseline, 4 weeks, discharge, and 6 months after discharge.
Results: Over the length of stay, the rate of change in the Disability Inventory was.27 points per day in the experimental group and.29 points per day in the control group; the between-group difference was -.02 points per day (95% confidence interval [CI], -.10 to.06; P=.62). At discharge, the rate of change in the 2MWT was -.01 m in the experimental group and.15m in the control group; the between-group difference was -.16 m (95% CI, -.37 to.05; P=.14).
Conclusions: Progressive resistance strengthening exercises as applied in our study were not effective when compared with the same exercises given without resistance.