Objectives: To examine the effects of a community-based group exercise program for older individuals with chronic stroke.
Design: Prospective, single-blind, randomized, controlled intervention trial.
Setting: Intervention was community-based. Data collection was performed in a research laboratory located in a rehabilitation hospital.
Participants: Sixty-three older individuals (aged≥50) with chronic stroke (poststroke duration≥1 year) who were living in the community.
Intervention: Participants were randomized into intervention group (n=32) or control group (n=31). The intervention group underwent a fitness and mobility exercise (FAME) program designed to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, mobility, leg muscle strength, balance, and hip bone mineral density (BMD) (1-hour sessions, three sessions/week, for 19 weeks). The control group underwent a seated upper extremity program.
Measurements: Cardiorespiratory fitness (maximal oxygen consumption), mobility (6-minute walk test), leg muscle strength (isometric knee extension), balance (Berg Balance Scale), activity and participation (Physical Activity Scale for Individuals with Physical Disabilities), and femoral neck BMD (using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry).
Results: The intervention group had significantly more gains in cardiorespiratory fitness, mobility, and paretic leg muscle strength than controls. Femoral neck BMD of the paretic leg was maintained in the intervention group, whereas a significant decline of the same occurred in controls. There was no significant time-by-group interaction for balance, activity and participation, nonparetic leg muscle strength, or nonparetic femoral neck BMD.
Conclusion: The FAME program is feasible and beneficial for improving some of the secondary complications resulting from physical inactivity in older adults living with stroke. It may serve as a good model of a community-based fitness program for preventing secondary diseases in older adults living with chronic conditions.