Stroke is the most common cause of complex disability in the community. Physical fitness is often reduced after stroke, but training can improve fitness and function. UK and international stroke clinical guidelines recommend long-term exercise participation for stroke survivors. However, there has been no previous research into what services are available to support this. In 2009, we conducted the first European survey of community Exercise after Stroke services. A link to our web-based survey was emailed to health, leisure service and stroke charity contacts in Scotland with email and telephone follow-up to non-respondents. The overall response rate was 64% (230/361). A total of 14 Exercise after Stroke services were identified, the majority of which were run by charity collaborations (7/14), followed by leisure centre services (4/14) and health services (3/14). We sought information on session content, referral and assessment processes, and the qualifications of exercise instructors. This information was cross-referenced with current clinical and exercise guidelines to determine whether existing resources were sufficient to meet stroke survivors' needs for safe, effective and sustainable access to exercise. The results indicated a shortage of stroke-specific community exercise programmes. Further service development is required to ensure appropriate instructor training and referral pathways are in place to enable stroke survivors to access exercise services in accordance with current guidelines.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.