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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Minerva Medica 2008 August;99(4):353-68

language: English

Muscle strength training, gait performance and physiotherapy after stroke

Lexell J. 1,2,3, Flansbjer U.-B. 1,2

1 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden
2 Division of Rehabilitation Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences Lund University, Lund, Sweden
3 Department of Health Sciences, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden


Hemiparesis after stroke, with muscle weakness and reduced gait performance, is a leading cause of long-term disability. To improve lower limb muscle strength and mobility post stroke, there is a need for effective training methods. This review summarises the effects of lower limb progressive resistance training ([PRT]; loads of 70% or more of the maximum strength) on muscle strength, muscle tone, gait performance and perceived participation after stroke. PRT is a safe and effective way to improve muscle strength post stroke, without negative effects on muscle tone. Furthermore, improvements in muscle strength positively influence gait performance and perceived participation. Current recommendations for stroke rehabilitation include strength training, which can also be an effective form of fitness training for subjects with minor weakness. Despite its proven effectiveness, further studies are needed to find the most appropriate time to start PRT post-stroke, to identify those stroke individuals that can benefit most from PRT and how to combined PRT with other physiotherapeutic stroke interventions.

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