02:38pm Saturday 19 October 2019

Exercise supports brain repair for stroke victims

Research results from a study being conducted at UniSA show that for stroke victims, exercising as little as once a week can improve both memory and the ability to process information quickly.Dr Michelle McDonnell, from the Sansom Institute for Health Research, has recently completed a study investigating the effect of regular aerobic exercise on thinking and memory skills in people following stroke.
“We were testing the notion that exercise is not only good for the body but also the brain and the results have been very promising,” Dr McDonnell says.
“We studied the ability to do things like remembering words or adding up numbers in people who had suffered a stroke and were taking part in regular exercise. Over the five month period of the study we have found solid evidence of improvements in memory and information processing for those participants engaged in regular exercise.”
Part of a larger study, Dr McDonnell’s work is being undertaken in conjunction with the Centre for Physical Activity in Ageing at Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, investigating the benefits of exercise for people following stroke.
Stroke is the leading cause of disability in Australia, with more than 300,000 Australians living with this devastating type of brain damage. In addition to problems with walking and talking, more than two-thirds of people following stroke also have problems with thinking and memory skills.
Dr McDonnell says that exercise may have a powerful effect on the brain’s ability to repair itself following brain damage by increasing circulation and altering connections between the nerves that are interrupted by a stroke.
“We believe exercise might actually encourage re-wiring of the brain so we’re keen to continue our research with people who have suffered a stroke,” she says.
Dr McDonnell is leading the study to investigate the effect of exercise on the brain and is looking for adults aged between 45 and 80 who have suffered a stroke to take part in further research.
More information about the study is available from Dr McDonnell, tel (08) 8302 1684.

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