OBJECTIVE. Previously, we demonstrated that forced aerobic exercise (FE) increases the pattern of neural activation in Parkinson’s disease. We sought to evaluate whether FE, when coupled with repetitive task practice, could promote motor recovery poststroke.
METHOD. A 46-yr-old man with ischemic stroke exhibited chronic residual upper-extremity deficits, scoring 35/66 on the Fugl-Meyer Assessment (FMA) at baseline. He completed 24 training sessions comprising 45 min of FE on a motorized stationary bicycle followed by 45 min of upper-extremity repetitive task practice.
RESULTS. From baseline to end of treatment, the FMA score improved by 20 points, perceived level of recovery on the Stroke Impact Scale increased by 20 percentage points, and cardiovascular function measured by peak oxygen uptake improved 30%. These improvements persisted 4 wk after the intervention ceased.
CONCLUSION. FE may be a safe and feasible rehabilitation approach to augment recovery of motor and nonmotor function while improving aerobic fitness in people with chronic stroke.