In the largest stroke rehabilitation study ever conducted in the United States, stroke patients who had physical therapy at home improved their ability to walk just as well as those who were treated in a training program that requires the use of a body-weight supported treadmill device followed by walking practice.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, also found that patients continued to improve up to one year after stroke, defying conventional wisdom that recovery occurs early and tops out at six months. In fact, even patients who started rehabilitation as late as six months after stroke were able to improve their walking.
The results of the study were announced last month at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011 in Los Angeles. NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) provided primary funding for the study.