The overarching goal of this research is to develop interventions that improve the overall health and quality of life of individuals post-stroke. As a group, stroke survivors are more physically inactive than even the most sedentary older adults. Lack of physical activity has serious consequences in persons with stroke, including an increased risk of recurrent stroke, developing other diseases and mortality. Current rehabilitation interventions do little to improve real-world walking activity after stroke, suggesting that simply improving walking capacity is not sufficient for improving daily physical activity after stroke. Rather, we hypothesize that the combination of a fast walking intervention that improves walking capacity, with a step activity monitoring program that facilitates translation of gains from the clinic to the ?real-world?, would generate greater improvements in real world walking activity than with either intervention alone. Data from our lab provides support for this hypothesis; however, it suggests that the greater efficacy of combining the 2 interventions depends on a participant's initial walking activity. Thus, we do not expect that one intervention will be superior to the others for all participants, but rather that the combined intervention will be superior for those with low levels of baseline walking activity, speed and endurance. The specific objective of this proposal is to test whether and for whom combining fast walking training with a step activity monitoring program (FAST+SAM) is superior in improving real-world walking activity compared to fast walking training alone (FAST) or a step activity monitoring and feedback program alone (SAM) in those with chronic stroke. Using a randomized controlled experimental design, 225 chronic (> 6 months) stroke survivors, will complete 12 weeks of fast walking training (FAST), a step activity monitoring program (SAM) or a fast walking training + step activity monitoring program (FAST+SAM).The primary (steps per day), secondary (self-selected and fastest walking speed, walking endurance, oxygen consumption) and exploratory (vascular events, blood lipids, glucose, blood pressure) outcomes will be assessed by blinded evaluators prior to initiating treatment, after the last treatment and at a 6 and 12 month follow-up. Moderation of specific intervention outcomes by baseline characteristics will be evaluated to determine for whom the interventions are effective. Following completion of this study, we will not only understand the efficacy of the interventions and the individuals for which they are effective, we will have the necessary information to design a study investigating the secondary prevention benefits of improved physical activity post-stroke. This study is, therefore, an important step in the development of secondary prevention guidelines for persons with stroke.

Public Health Relevance

Stroke survivors, as a group, are extremely inactive and this has serious consequences for them, including an increased risk of a second stroke and developing other diseases. This proposal investigates a novel intervention designed to improve everyday activity after stroke by combining walking training to improve walking capacity with a program to encourage more daily walking.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Initial Review Group (CHHD)
Program Officer
Cruz, Theresa
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University of Delaware
Other Health Professions
Sch Allied Health Professions
United States
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French, Margaret A; Morton, Susanne M; Pohlig, Ryan T et al. (2018) The relationship between BDNF Val66Met polymorphism and functional mobility in chronic stroke survivors. Top Stroke Rehabil 25:276-280
Wright, Henry; Wright, Tamara; Pohlig, Ryan T et al. (2018) Protocol for promoting recovery optimization of walking activity in stroke (PROWALKS): a randomized controlled trial. BMC Neurol 18:39