Purpose: We conducted a non-controlled pilot intervention study in stroke survivors to examine the efficacy of low-intensity adaptive physical activity to increase balance, improve walking function, and increase cardiovascular fitness and to determine whether improvements were carried over into activity profiles in home and community.
Method: Adaptive physical activity sessions were conducted 3 times/week for 6 months. The main outcomes were Berg Balance Scale, Dynamic Gait Index, 6-Minute Walk Test, cardiovascular fitness (VO2 peak), Falls Efficacy Scale, and 5-day Step Activity Monitoring.
Results: Seven men and women with chronic ischemic stroke completed the 6-month intervention. The mean Berg Balance baseline score increased from 33.9+/-8.5 to 46+/-6.7 at 6 months (mean+/-SD; p=.006). Dynamic Gait Index increased from 13.7+/-3.0 to 19.0+/-3.5 (p=.01). Six-minute walk distance increased from 840+/-110 feet to 935+/-101 feet (p=0.02). VO2 peak increased from 15.3+/-4.1 mL/kg/min to 17.5+/-4.7 mL/kg/min (p=.03). There were no significant changes in falls efficacy or free-living ambulatory activity.
Conclusion: A structured adaptive physical activity produces improvements in balance, gait, fitness, and ambulatory performance but not in falls efficacy or free-living daily step activity. Randomized studies are needed to determine the cardiovascular health and functional benefits of structured group physical activity programs and to develop behavioral interventions that promote increased free-living physical activity patterns.