Objective: Analyse the effect of core stability exercises in addition to conventional physiotherapy training three months after the intervention ended.
Design: A randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Outpatient services.
Subjects: Seventy-nine stroke survivors.
Interventions: In the intervention period, both groups underwent conventional physiotherapy performed five days/week for five weeks, and in addition the experimental group performed core stability exercises for 15 minutes/day. Afterwards, during a three-month follow-up period, both groups underwent usual care that could eventually include conventional physiotherapy or physical exercise but not in a controlled condition.
Main measures: Primary outcome was trunk control and dynamic sitting balance assessed by the Spanish-Version of Trunk Impairment Scale 2.0 and Function in Sitting Test. Secondary outcomes were standing balance and gait evaluated by the Berg Balance Scale, Tinetti Test, Brunel Balance Assessment, Spanish-Version of Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke and activities of daily living using the Barthel Index.
Results: A total of 68 subjects out of 79 completed the three-month follow-up period. The mean difference (SD) between groups was 0.78 (1.51) points ( p = 0.003) for total score on the Spanish-Version of Trunk Impairment Scale 2.0, 2.52 (6.46) points ( p = 0.009) for Function in Sitting Test, dynamic standing balance was 3.30 (9.21) points ( p= 0.009) on the Berg Balance Scale, gait was 0.82 (1.88) points ( p = 0.002) by Brunel Balance Assessment (stepping), and 1.11 (2.94) points ( p = 0.044) by Tinetti Test (gait), all in favour of core stability exercises.
Conclusions: Core stability exercises plus conventional physiotherapy have a positive long-term effect on improving dynamic sitting and standing balance and gait in post-stroke patients.
Keywords: Follow-up; core stability exercises; hemiparesis; long-term; sitting balance; stroke; trunk control.