Annual Advancements in Medicine Section
From minimally invasive surgical technologies to innovative appproaches to rehabiliation and beyond, new research in the medical field is optimizing care for patients and doctors alike. Read on to discover the latest in revolutionary treatment options.
High intensity gait training can help improve walking-related outcomes for patients who have experienced a stroke.
Understanding Stroke Rehabilitation
After a stroke, which occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, the brain needs to re-wire itself. Known as neuroplasticity, this ability of the brain allows its unaffected areas to take on new functions. Stroke rehabilitation techniques can help the brain make these neuroplastic changes through repetitive practice under the proper intensity.
Research on neuroplasticity related to stroke rehabilitation has informed innovative methods to help patients improve their walking ability, such as high intensity gait training (HIGT). This rehabilitation technique is based on the discovery that neuroplastic changes best occur when a patient exercises at high intensity levels while maintaining 75-85% of their maximum heart rate.
What to Expect
HIGT sessions simply consist of walking. To help keep your heart rate in the target zone, your physical therapist may introduce challenges such as adding weight to your legs and increasing your walking speed, as well as have you ascend and descend stairs, change directions, and navigate obstacles.
Benefits to Patients
For people who have experienced a stroke, HIGT can help improve walking speed, quality, symmetry, and balance. Compared to conventional methods, it involves a higher number of steps within the range required for neuroplasticity and facilitates a significant increase in steps per day. HIGT can also advance cardiovascular fitness and endurance and decrease the risk of having another stroke.