Two-Month Individually Supervised Exercise Therapy Improves Walking Speed, Step Length and Temporal Gait Symmetry in Chronic Stroke Patients: A before-after trial
Gait asymmetry is common after stroke and is a major risk factor for falls. In particular, temporal gait asymmetry often remains in the chronic stage of stroke. However, health insurance does not cover rehabilitation for patients with chronic stroke in many countries. Accordingly, it is undetermined whether individually supervised exercise therapy has beneficial effects on chronic hemiparetic gait. Patients with stroke (n = 25) over 6 months after onset participated. The patients performed 70 min of individually supervised exercise therapy twice weekly for 2 months for 16 sessions with qualified personnel. The intervention significantly reduced the pre-swing phase on the paretic side. In addition, there was a significant improvement in pre-swing phase symmetry in those with great asymmetry prior to the intervention. The step length significantly increased after the intervention on both sides. The walking time at both comfortable and maximum speeds was significantly shortened. Our findings suggest that there remains scope to improve gait ability with individually supervised exercise therapy in patients with chronic stroke whose functional recovery is often considered unlikely. This type of intervention may be a simple and effective option to improve gait parameters, including temporal asymmetry, even in patients with chronic stroke.