Physical Fitness Training

November 2016: Saunders et al. (2016) Physical fitness training for stroke patients. Cochrane Database Systematic Review March 24;3: CD003316. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003316.pub6

It’s been quite some time since I’ve reviewed a Cochrane Database Systematic Review. This research was led by Professor Gillian Mead. If you’ve not heard of her before, I would recommend her to you. She is a stroke champion, who, as her website states: “aims to find out how to improve recovery and quality of life in people who survive a stroke”.

Stroke is a cardiovascular disease, so perhaps it’s somewhat surprising that for so many years we’ve ignored the importance of physical fitness and cardiovascular health in survivors of stroke. In the past, stroke rehabilitation has focused on the restoration of independence in everyday activities, but increasingly, the focus is shifting towards physical fitness, which is a positive move in my humble opinion, as both go hand-in-hand.

These authors found that: “Cardiorespiratory training and, to a lesser extent, mixed training reduce disability during or after usual stroke care; this could be mediated by improved mobility and balance. There is sufficient evidence to incorporate cardiorespiratory and mixed training, involving walking, within post-stroke rehabilitation programmes to improve the speed and tolerance of walking… Cognitive function is under-investigated despite being a key outcome of interest for patients.”

As a Cochrane Review, it is publicly available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003316.pub6/full

To find the full reference, abstract and “humble opinion”, go to Journal Club 2016 and Physical Fitness Training.