Enhancing Cardiovascular Health and Functional Recovery in Stroke Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Stroke-Specific and Cardiac Rehabilitation Protocols for Optimized Rehabilitation
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Background: Stroke is a major contributor to disability and mortality globally. It leads to physical impairments, including weakness and cardiovascular deconditioning, posing significant challenges to stroke survivors’ quality of life. Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation has shown promise as a rehabilitation strategy. This study aims to assess and compare the impacts of stroke-specific rehabilitation and individualized cardiac rehabilitation exercises on various health parameters in stroke patients. Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted, involving 38 stroke patients aged 40–75 years. Group A received stroke-specific rehabilitation, which consisted of a combination of range of motion exercises, strength training for the paralyzed side, balance and coordination training, gait training, functional mobility exercises, neuromuscular reeducation, and breathing exercises. This program was conducted five days per week for 12 weeks. Group B received individually designed cardiac rehabilitation exercises, in addition to stroke-specific rehabilitation. They engaged in this exercise for at least 30–45 min per day, four days per week, and incorporated two days of resistive training over a 12-week period. Baseline and post-intervention assessments included measures of cardiac autonomic function, balance (Berg Balance Scale), mobility (Timed Up and Go Test), cardiovascular fitness indicators, respiratory parameters, exercise efficiency, and perceived exertion. Results: Group B receiving individualized cardio rehab showed significant improvements in balance and mobility compared to Group A receiving conventional stroke-specific rehab. Moreover, Group B exhibited enhanced cardiovascular fitness, respiratory performance, exercise efficiency, and autonomic function post-intervention. Notably, Group A displayed no significant improvements in these parameters. Conclusions: Individualized cardiac rehabilitation exercises demonstrated favorable outcomes in improving certain health parameters, highlighting the potential benefits of individualized rehabilitation strategies for stroke patients.