This review evaluated the effects of balance and/or gait exercise interventions for stroke survivors and summarized the available evidence on these exercise interventions. A search for studies published between January 2001 and January 2010 was performed using the keywords stroke, walking or balance, and physical activity or exercise. Seventeen randomized clinical trials were identified. The findings suggest that initiating early rehabilitation during acute to subacute stroke recovery can improve balance and walking capacity. The findings also demonstrate that at least 1 hour, three to five times per week, of balance training and 30 minutes, three to five times per week, of gait-oriented exercise are effective to improve balance and walking. This review confirms that balance and walking capacity are improved with specific exercise modalities. A combination of balance, gait, and aerobic exercises would be ideal.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Minjeong An, MSN RN FNP-BC, at email@example.com. She is a doctoral student at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD.
Marianne Shaughnessy, PhD RN CRNP, is the associate director of Education/Evaluation at the Baltimore VA Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) and an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.