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According to the American Stroke Association, patients who begin their physical therapy even after six months post-stroke can still recover their mobility. This is contrary to the common assumption that therapy sessions should start within six months after the stroke.

Katherine Sullivan of the University of Southern California says that the conventional belief that therapy should commence within the first half-year is not true. “The potential for recovery is well beyond the first few months after an injury or after a stroke,” she says.

In addition, the treadmill therapy technique is no better than home therapy, according to the Locomotor Experience Applied Post-Stroke (LEAPS) research.

LEAPS is a project that seeks to determine the best possible therapy treatment for over 4 million stroke survivors in the U.S. who have difficulty walking. The team looked into the effectiveness of locomotor training—a process that involves the patient walking on a treadmill as his bodyweight is supported by a harness. Once the patient shows improvement in his mobility on the treadmill, his training will progress to practice walks.

Thereafter, the LEAPS researchers compared the results of locomotor patients with those who underwent home therapy assisted by a physical therapist. Both patient groups fared equally, showing similar improvements in terms of mobility, flexibility, strength and balance.

Dr. Bruce Dobkin of the University of California at Los Angeles thought that the locomotor patients would do better compared to those who underwent home therapy. “We found that all groups did equally well, achieving similar gains in walking speed, motor recovery, balance, social participation, and quality of life,” he says.


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