A stroke often cuts off blood flow to the brain and impairs vital cognitive abilities such as thinking, remembering, and learning. However, new research finds a post-stroke exercise program aids in not only physical recovery for survivors, but mental as well.
Researchers analyzed records from 13 clinical trials that included a total of 639 patients recovering from a stroke. Participants who exercised showed greater gains in mental abilities, especially attention and processing speed, versus those who didn’t exercise. Structured exercise programs aimed at strength, balance, stretching, and aerobic fitness were the most effective.
Lead author Lauren Oberlin and her team say exercise improves blood flow to the brain, promotes the growth of new brain cells, and reduces inflammation. Oberlin presented the findings last month at the International Stroke Conference in Houston, Texas.
SOURCES: Lauren Oberlin, M.S., graduate student, psychology, University of Pittsburgh; Daniel Lackland, Dr.P.H., spokesman, American Stroke Association, and professor, medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston; Feb. 22, 2017, presentation, International Stroke Conference, Houston