Mental Function in Stroke Patients Improves with Exercise
Research at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute suggests that exercise should be included in the treatment routine of patients who suffer from stroke because it helps improve their cognitive (mental) deficits.
A stroke or a “brain attack” occurs when blood flow to the brain or part of the brain stops, causing damage to the affected areas which lack oxygen. Damage to brain cells may bring about many symptoms, including changes in mental function, such as diminished memory, reduced attention and concentration, confusion, difficulty in reading or writing, and more. Patients who are more severely affected are more likely to be institutionalized and to die from complications.
A study recently presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress shows that exercise, which has many physical benefits for stroke patients, also helps to improve their mental function. The study, led by Susan Marzolini, evaluated 41 stroke patients who at least had mild cognitive impairment. Seventy percent of the participants experienced mild to moderate walking problems. They were encouraged to do exercises such as walking, doing squats and lifting weights.
After doing aerobic and resistance training program five days a week for six months, the number of patients with cognitive impairments declined from 66% to 37%. They were also noted to have significant improvements in their overall physical and mental function. After gaining more muscle strength, many were able to walk better. Cognitive functions, such as attention, concentration, ability to plan and organize, were also observed to improve.
Marzolini believes that enhancing the cardiovascular fitness of stroke patients through aerobic exercise and increasing their muscle strength through resistance training can help them improve their physical as well as brain health.
HealthDay News. Exercise Improves Effects of Stroke: Study. http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=669152