Partnering to increase access to community exercise programs for people with stroke, acquired brain injury, and multiple sclerosis

J Phys Act Health. 2014 May;11(4):838-45. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2012-0183. Epub 2013 May 13.


Background: The purpose of this article is to describe the development and evaluation of a task-oriented group exercise program, delivered through a municipal recreation program, for community-dwelling people with neurological conditions.

Methods: Physical therapists (PTs) at a rehabilitation hospital partnered with a municipal recreation provider to develop and evaluate a 12-week exercise program for people with stroke, acquired brain injury, and multiple sclerosis at 2 community centers. Fitness instructors who were trained and supported by PTs taught 1-hour exercise classes twice a week. In a program evaluation of the safety, feasibility and effects of the program, standardized measures of physical function were administered before and after the program.

Results: Fourteen individuals (mean age: 63 years) participated and attended 92% of exercise classes, on average. Two minor adverse events occurred during 293 attendances. Improvement in mean score on all measures was observed. In people with stroke, a statistically significant improvement in mean Berg Balance Scale (mean ± SD change = 3 ± 2 points, P = .016, n = 7) and 6-minute walk test scores (change = 26 ± 26 m, P = .017, n = 9) was observed.

Conclusions: This model of exercise delivery provides people with neurological conditions with access to a safe, feasible and potentially beneficial exercise program in the community.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Exercise Therapy / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Fitness Centers / methods
  • Fitness Centers / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / rehabilitation
  • Nervous System Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Ontario
  • Physical Therapists*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Recreation*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Workforce