MONDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The sooner people can cross their legs after having a stroke, the better their chances for recovery, new research suggests.
This complicated movement, occurring within two weeks of a stroke, is a good sign that the brain is processing again, researchers said.
"It looks simple, but it's very complex," said Dr. Naveen Goyal, director of the Stroke Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. "It requires a good amount of strength because the leg is such a heavy part of the body. Also, coordination is required. Then there's the ability to tell one side of the body from the other side."
Goyal was not involved with the study, which appears in the Oct. 11 issue of Neurology.
Using leg crossing to assess patients would be simple for clinicians, much simpler than standard tests to gauge disability, said the study authors.
And it could quickly help direct patients into the right treatment, they said.
"Of course, every survivor after severe stroke should get the maximal intensive rehab, but when we know that leg movement is possible we could switch to more specific training programs," said study senior author Dr. Berend Feddersen, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Munich in Germany.
Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain stops because of a blocked or ruptured blood vessel. It is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in developed countries.
Several scales have been developed to predict recovery, but these usually are administered by trained professionals and may only provide information up to three months' post-stroke.
For this study, the researchers followed 34 patients who crossed their legs within 15 days of a stroke and 34 who did not cross their legs in that critical time frame.
All participants had had severe stroke and we
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