Barriers and Facilitators to Exercise Among Stroke Survivors

Authors

  • Teresa M. Damush PhD,

    Coordinator, Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Teresa M. Damush, PhD, is the implementation coordinator for the VA Stroke QUERI and assistant research professor HSRD CIEBP at Roudebush VAMC, Indiana University Center for Aging Research, and Regenstrief Institute, Inc.

  • Laurie Plue MA,

    Administrative CoordinatorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Laurie Plue, MA, is the administrative coordinator for the VA Stroke QUERI Center at the Roudebush VAMC.

  • Tamilyn Bakas DNS RN,

    Associate ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Tamilyn Bakas, DNS RN, is an associate professor in the Indiana University School of Nursing and affiliated scientist with IU Center for Aging Research in Indianapolis, IN.

  • Arlene Schmid PhD OT,

    Assistant ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Arlene Schmid, OT PHD, is an assistant professor at VAMC in Indianapolis, IN, Indiana University Center for Aging Research, and Indiana University School of Rehabilitation Science.

  • Linda S. Williams MD

    Research CoordiantorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Linda S. Williams, MD, is the research coordiantor for the VA Stroke QUERI Center and chief of neurology at Roudebush VAMC and affiliated scientist with the IU Center for Aging Research.


tdamush@iupui.edu.

Abstract

Physical activity after stroke may prevent disability and stroke recurrence; yet, physical impairments may inhibit post-stroke exercise and subsequently limit recovery. The goal of this study was to elicit barriers to and facilitators of exercise after stroke. We conducted three focus groups and achieved content saturation from 13 stroke survivors—eight men and five women—85% of whom were African American and 15% White, with a mean age of 59 years. We coded and analyzed the transcripts from the focus groups for common themes. Participants across groups reported three barriers (physical impairments from stroke, lack of motivation, and environmental factors) and three facilitators (motivation, social support, and planned activities to fill empty schedule) to exercise after stroke. Exercise activity can provide a purpose and structure to a stroke survivor's daily schedule, which may be interrupted after stroke. In addition, receiving social support from peers and providers, as well as offering stroke-specific exercise programming, may enhance physical activity of stroke survivors including those with disabilities. We intend to incorporate these findings into a post-stroke self-management exercise program.

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