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Non-intense physical activity to reduce depression and boost recovery of stroke patients
Date:6/6/2010

Quebec You don't always need to build up a big sweat to reap the healing benefits of physical activity. Research has found that even a low-intense exercise program can reduce depression symptoms and boost physical therapy results in recovering stroke patients.

"The power of physical activity to raise the spirits of recovering stroke patients is stronger than anyone suspected," Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher Dr. Jocelyn Harris told Canadian Stroke Congress, co-hosted by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Stroke Consortium.

She says that many stroke survivors experience feelings of depression in the weeks and months following stroke, which can interfere with the recovery process. This may be due in part to the fact that depression can cause a lack of motivation, increased fatigue, and trouble concentrating.

Intense physical activity has a positive effect on reducing depression for most stroke patients. But some stroke patients undergoing medical treatments have special challenges and can't reach high activity levels, she says.

"Many stroke patients could never reach aerobic levels high enough to alleviate depressive symptoms," says Dr. Harris, who works at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

Without that fitness boost, depression can become a perpetual, unwelcome guest for stroke patients and their caregivers.

This new study shows there is no reason for these patients to miss out on the benefits of physical activity.

The study followed 103 recovering stroke patients who were all receiving regular, standard treatment in hospital.

Fifty-three just over half − of the patients were enrolled in an additional, experimental program for upper limb recovery called Graded Repetitive Arm Supplementary Program (GRASP). The remaining 50 patients carried on with regular treatments.

Patients in the GRASP group spent an extra 35 mi
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Contact: Jane-Diane Fraser
jfraser@hsf.ca
613-569-4361 x273
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Source:Eurekalert

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