Patient Characteristics That Influence Enrollment and Attendance in Aerobic Exercise Early After Stroke
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OBJECTIVE: To identify patient characteristics that influence physiotherapist's decisions on enrollment and attendance in a structured aerobic exercise program early after stroke. DESIGN: Retrospective chart review. SETTING: Rehabilitation hospital. PARTICIPANTS: Consecutive sample of people (N=345) admitted to inpatient stroke rehabilitation over a 2-year period. INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient demographic characteristics, preexisting medical conditions, and poststroke outcome variables (neurological deficit, physical impairment, balance control, and functional mobility and independence) were compared between individuals enrolled and not enrolled in a structured aerobic exercise program. The rate of attendance was calculated for the enrolled group. RESULTS: One hundred twenty-nine patients (38%) were enrolled in the structured aerobic exercise program. Patients who were older (P=.0093) and had cardiac disease (P=.012), cardioembolic sources (P=.0094), and arthritis (P=.031) were less likely to be enrolled in the structured aerobic exercise program. Poststroke outcome variables were not associated with enrollment. Among those enrolled, the rate of attendance was positively correlated with the FIM cognitive rating (r=.27; P=.0031). CONCLUSIONS: Enrollment in structured aerobic exercise programs during inpatient stroke rehabilitation can be limited by safety concerns related to patients' cardiovascular and musculoskeletal status. Barriers associated with the perception of cardiovascular risk factors should be confronted because they do not preclude participation in cardiac rehabilitation. In addition, poststroke deficits do not limit participation in adapted aerobic exercise early after stroke. It is likely that the characteristics of the structured aerobic exercise program were integral to accommodate the breadth of poststroke deficits encountered in this study. Future research investigating physiotherapist and practice environment factors that influence the decision to prescribe and implement aerobic exercise is warranted.
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