Partnering to Increase Access to Community Exercise Programs for People With Stroke, Acquired Brain Injury, and Multiple Sclerosis

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The purpose of this article is to describe the development and evaluation of a task-oriented group exercise program, delivered through a municipal recreation program, for community-dwelling people with neurological conditions.


Physical therapists (PTs) at a rehabilitation hospital partnered with a municipal recreation provider to develop and evaluate a 12-week exercise program for people with stroke, acquired brain injury, and multiple sclerosis at 2 community centers. Fitness instructors who were trained and supported by PTs taught 1-hour exercise classes twice a week. In a program evaluation of the safety, feasibility and effects of the program, standardized measures of physical function were administered before and after the program.


Fourteen individuals (mean age: 63 years) participated and attended 92% of exercise classes, on average. Two minor adverse events occurred during 293 attendances. Improvement in mean score on all measures was observed. In people with stroke, a statistically significant improvement in mean Berg Balance Scale (mean ± SD change = 3 ± 2 points, P = .016, n = 7) and 6-minute walk test scores (change = 26 ± 26 m, P = .017, n = 9) was observed.


This model of exercise delivery provides people with neurological conditions with access to a safe, feasible and potentially beneficial exercise program in the community.

Salbach is with the Dept of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Howe, Brunton, and Salisbury are with the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Bodiam is with the Dept of Parks, Forestry, and Recreation, City of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.