Cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) otherwise known as “strokes,” occur in nearly 800,000 individuals each year. Stroke survivors are often left with deficits in physical and cognitive function; in fact, up to 78% of survivors have impairments in executive function, attention, and memory (Nys et al. 2007, Zinn et al. 2007, Lesniak et al. 2008).
Canadian researchers were interested to see if an exercise program could improve cognitive deficits in stroke survivors over 50 years old. They participated in a 6-month exercise program for 2 hours per week in addition to 1 hour of recreational exercise each week.
The researchers used the FAME (Fitness and Mobility Exercise) program, which has been shown to improve mobility, strength, and cardiovascular fitness in patients with chronic stroke (Pang et al. 2005). The FAME program included balance exercises on foam pads and wobble boards.
After the program, participants improved in memory and executive function, as well as knee strength and walking speed. The authors acknowledged that their study was limited by a lack of a control group and small sample size. This pilot study suggests that an exercise program including Thera-Band® Stability Trainers and wobble boards may improve physical and cognitive function in chronic stroke survivors.
REFERENCE: Rand D, Eng JJ, Liu-Ambrose T, Tawashy AE. Feasibility of a 6-month exercise and recreation program to improve executive functioning and memory in individuals with chronic stroke. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2010 Oct;24(8):722-9.