New research shows that treadmill exercise programs working on general strength and overall balance, may help stroke patients regain the ability to walk normally again.
The study showed that more than 50 percent of individuals who performed some kind of physical therapy following a stroke, whether it be walking on a treadmill or performing strength training exercises, were able to improve the ability to walk.
The trial was called the Locomotor Experience Applied Post-Stroke, or LEAPS, and it involved more than 400 individuals who recently suffered a stroke.
The study also found that participants noticed more benefits when using a treadmill that required the patient to propel it rather than having it automatically propelled.
Originally believed at the start of the study, experts believed the specific walking programs would show greater benefits for functionality following a stroke when compared to strength training or balance programs. However, researchers found the results to be nearly identical in terms of overall balance, quality of life, and walking speed, regardless of the program a patient was on.
Additionally, patients with severe difficulty walking at the start of the program, were able to improve functionality using any of the training programs.
The largest gains were noticed during the first 12 therapy sessions.
Researchers explain that all of the programs involved in the study are beneficial for stroke patients and could all be used as an effective physical therapy treatment.