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Abdulfattah Alqahtani1,2; Ramzi Alajam1; Stephen Jernigan1; Wen Liu1

1University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS; 2King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

PURPOSE: Most of rehabilitation interventions in stroke rehabilitation have focused on improving the impaired sensorimotor function. However, up to 75% of stroke survivors are prone to have cardiovascular disease, which is the main cause of death in people after stroke. Stroke survivors are also prone to have diabetes mellitus due to increased fat tissue in their affected limbs. In addition, lung function is compromised in stroke survivors, which may cause fatigue and exercise intolerance. Furthermore, past studies of aerobic exercise have involved only stroke survivors who could walk independently. Stroke survivors who were unable to walk were not included in previous research investigating changes in risk of cardiovascular disease and lung function from walking exercise interventions. In this project, we examined the effect of aerobic walking exercise on blood glycemic level and lung function in non-ambulatory stroke survivors using a treadmill, body weight support system, and a gait training device. METHODS: In this on-going project, we have completed a low intensity walking exercise program (30 minutes/session; three sessions/week for eight weeks) in 5 ischemic stroke survivors (4 males, mean age 63.8±14.8 years). Before and after the intervention, a glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) was measured using A1CNow+™ Systems, and vital capacity (VC) and forced vital capacity (FVC) using a spirometer according to the guideline from American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society. RESULTS: HbA1c decreased from 5.7±0.2% to 5.4%±0.2% from before to after the intervention. Pre- and post-intervention VC increased from 2.69±1.01 L to 2.85±0.82 L; FVC increased from 2.65±1.08 L to 2.72±0.97 L, respectively. CONCLUSION: The results are promising and suggest that the low intensity aerobic walking exercise may decrease HbA1c in non-ambulatory stroke survivors. Also, the results suggest that the low intensity aerobic walking exercise may improve lung function by increasing VC and FVC. This is an ongoing study; we anticipate recruiting 20 study participants for the study.

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