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Good news for stroke patients: You don’t have to enroll in a high-tech physical therapy training program since home therapy achieves the same purpose and with as much efficiency, as well.

“We were pleased to see that stroke patients who had a home physical therapy exercise program improved just as well as those who did the locomotor training,” Professor Pamela W. Duncan of Duke University School of Medicine said. “The home physical therapy program is more convenient and pragmatic. Usual care should incorporate more intensive exercise programs that are easily accessible to patients to improve walking, function and quality of life.”

The researchers took in over 400 participants having an average age of 62. Some were assigned in locomotor training within two months after the stroke while the rest underwent therapy only after six months post-stroke.

In locomotor training, the patient is made to walk on a treadmill with a harness to support a portion of his entire bodyweight. Upon graduating on the treadmill course, he proceeds to walking.

The patients in both locomotor courses were matched up to patients who underwent a home exercise program under the supervision of a physical therapist. When both groups were assessed, 52 percent of all patients were able to improve their ability to walk. They showed comparable developments in mobility and recovery.

According to Dr. Walter Koroshetz of the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are over 4 million stroke survivors who are experiencing difficulty walking. “Rigorously comparing available physical therapy treatments is essential to determine which is best,” he says.


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